Time and Again

Author: Tenhawk <tenhawk[at]gmail.com>

Disclaimer: All characters belong to their rightful owners... none of which are me. If their proper owners had the slightest concept of how valuable their characters really were... I wouldn't have to write this stuff.

Summary: Summer Lull? Ri-ght.

Warning : Crossovers ahead. (Yes Plural.)

Rating : PG-13. For mature themes and all the other fun stuff that rarely makes network TV.

Feedback, It's the coin of the realm.

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Chapter 1

The five men circled Xander as he flipped the staff easily in his hands, whirling it behind his back as he half turned to place each of them in his mind. They were coming in cautiously now, weapons in hand, and he waited for the moment.

His senses hyper-tuned, only the barest flicker of silver filling his pupils this time as he stretched out to his companion and consciously shut down his senses of taste and touch. Without them, his mind used those processing sectors to amplify sight, hearing, and sound, snapping the world into unreal clarity around him as time slowed to a trickle.

They charged.

He bent at the waist, leaning to the right as the one behind him struck. The staff passed through where his body had been, it's wielder unable to check his thrust, and Xander drove his own back without looking, then hooked it left, then up.

The staff slapped under the man's leg, crooking his knee from the force, then levered him off his feet and flat back on his ass.


Xander continued the arc, pushing himself off the ground into the air in a spin as he snapped the weapon around in a potentially lethal arc.

The crack of weapon on weapon filled the air as the woman in front of him caught the blow on her own staff, right in the center, but braced by her hands only inches to either side. She let go of her weapon with one hand, then brushed Xander's strike aside as she drove her knee up to meet his descending face.

He let go of his weapon completely, letting it spin away under the parry, and struck out three times in quick succession to her legs as he fell to a crouch. She yelped in pain, her legs going dead, and fell to the side as he plucked her weapon from the air as it fell from nerveless fingers.

Two down.

The next three arrived simultaneously, forcing him to block one strike behind his back, whipping his staff around in a never ending arc that intercepted shot after shot.

He kicked out backwards, unsurprised when his target hopped over his foot, but merely adjusted without looking. The man landed, shocked, on Xander's extended foot, then was tossed on his ass when Xander yanked the feet out from under him.

Xander felt the last two attacking from either side, and jumped up. He planted the staff into the ground, balancing himself on it's point, and snapped his feet out in either direction in an inverted split kick that caught both men hard on the jaws. They fell back, groaning, and tried to shake off the stars.

One by one they all got up, facing Xander, and they finally smirked and bowed.

"Nice match." Xander replied, returning the bow.

"Easy for you to say," Vasquez muttered dryly, "You kicked our ass, man!"

Xander shrugged, "There's a reason why I'm classified as an 'Enhanced' Knight."

Loud, slow laughter echoed from the side as Gunny Apone approached, clapping his hands in a slow staccato that matched his laughter. The not quite regulation cigar was clenched in his teeth, and he was grinning ear to ear as he watched his marines pick their asses off the ground. He knew that they had been outclassed going in, but he was still going to ride them to hell over being beaten without scoring a single hit in return.

That was his job, after all.

"Enhanced my ass," Hicks scowled mildly, brushing off his pant leg as he straightened his back out. "I read your file, Sir. You're officially classified as a Crusader."

Xander shrugged, smiling slightly. <Good man.>

<Indeed.> Elanthielle replied, <Not many have noted that part of your title.>

"What's the diff?" Hudson asked looking over.

Xander shrugged, "You tell them, Corporal, since you bothered to look it up."

Hicks snorted, "The combat arm of the old Knighthood was separated into two groups. The first was the Knights. They were the 'regular military' section of the organization, though they were the special forces elite of Atlantis. Think of them like the Navy Seals, Marine Force Recon, Delta Force kinda guys. That's us, in case you were wondering, Hudson."

"So? What's a Crusader, Man?" Vasquez asked, curious.

"They were... different." Hicks replied, "Imagine... Oh hell, how do I explain it? Mix the Green Berets with the Jedi Knights and the Texas Rangers. You have a problem, you send in ONE, just one SINGLE Crusader, and he'd take care of it. They traditionally operated away from central control for months or years at a time, and were entrusted to enact policy for the entire Empire."

"Madre de dios."

"Bravo, Corporal." Xander grinned, clapping easily. "You missed some details, and I object to the Jedi crack, but that's pretty close. Though, for the record, the Crusaders weren't quite as tough as you paint them. Most often they were long range scouts for the rest of the Knighthood, they were the guys in first and out last, but they did normally work in conjunction with the rest of the Knights."

Hicks shrugged, "I was mostly reading the legends."

"Ah," Xander smiled, "Those. Keep in mind, that some of those have been... embellished for public consumption."

"That's kinda what I thought, until you kicked our butts without taking a single hit," Hicks smirked, "now I wonder."

Xander chuckled, grabbing a towel from the ground by the edge of the practice mats, "The Knighthood were the Elite, like you said. The Crusaders, they were the Elite of the Elite. Technically, I shouldn't be counted among their number, but as a bearer of one of the Five, I automatically qualify. Elan was Crusader, her bearer is expected to be no less."

He paused, looking around at them seriously, "Today, I'm the only Crusader known to be alive... But I fully expect each of you to work like hell to be considered for the positions."

"Hoo Ha!" The Marines all replied instantly.

Xander smirked, then looked around to the observers who had so far been quietly watching.

"ALL of you."

The Knights who had gathered to watch the Commander's workout nodded quickly in response, some even saluting.

"So, Buff," Xander grinned as he tossed his towel to one side and stripped the sweat soaked shirt off, "Learn anything?"

Buffy was just starting to get used to the facts of life that had changed and twisted so much on her, and had actually come to enjoy her 'summer camp' time on Avalon. She was working hard, to be sure, Xander had military people teaching her everything from unarmed combat to firearms and even some higher tech weaponry. It was *fun* for the Slayer too, and Buffy was looking forward to trying out the new moves on some vamps when school was back in.

She hadn't always been so enthusiastic though, and the thoughts of what had happened in Miami still gave her shivers and occasional nightmares, but she was starting to put it behind her.

"Yeah," She told him, smirking as he dropped into the bubbling hot tub, "come to your room after you train for a free show."

"Smart ass." He mumbled a little incoherently as he let the heat penetrate his muscles.

"Damn, B," Faith spoke up, startling Buffy as the Blonde turned to see that Faith had been sitting quietly in a corner the whole time, "You just learning that? I been here for fifteen minutes, waiting."


Both Slayers' eyes widened in surprise as they turned to Xander.

"Scuse me, Boytoy??"

"You heard me." Xander told Faith without looking up.

"Yeah, I did," She smirked, "I just couldn't believe that you were complaining 'bout that. I seem to remember that you didn't mind a little perversion now and again, back in the day..."

"Ok, Eww!" Buffy held up her hands, "Too much information, alright!"

Faith just shrugged, "Hey I figure I may as well try toying with the boy while I can."

"No you may not," Xander muttered, "I'm seeing Natalie, thank you very much."

Faith snorted.

He sighed, "What's that supposed to mean?"

"When was the last time you two got together?" She asked pointedly.

Xander had to think, "Uh... A while?"

"Point, set, and match."

"Hey, we just keep missing each other!" He protested, half turning in the bubbling water to look at her. "She was on assignment in Europe last week, and I was in Miami and Paris the week before."

Faith just shrugged again.

Xander sighed again, "besides, we've got a date scheduled. Just as soon as the supplies are together for the Atlantis mission."

"Uh huh."

Far out in the solar system the fabric of space shimmered and shivered, an unearthly blue glow erupting from an anomaly that formed spontaneously as it spat a sleek white ship from it's core. The ship slowed rapidly, coming to a halt as the anomaly faded behind it, and the people on board stared at their screens in shock.

"My God... Captain... We're home."

"Full scans! Locate the chrono-ship!"

On the bridge of the USS Voyager, Captain Kathryn Janeway leaned forward, eyes searching the stars ahead of them grimly.

"It's nowhere in range, Captain," Harry Kim said, shaking his head.

"Damn." She hissed, "Where could he have gone?"

"Oh my god!" Harry muttered in shock.

"What? Ensign? What is it?"

"Captain... The computer just analyzed the signals coming from the Earth..." Harry whispered, "This is home... but it's not our home. It's the end of the twentieth century."

Silence reigned on the bridge of the USS Voyager.

Chapter 2

The sound of the warning chimes startled everyone, and brought a groan from Xander as he let his head thump back against the lip of the tub.

"Aw Damn it!"

"There is an unidentified ship approaching orbit, Commander."

"Crap!" Xander growled, pulling himself out of the tub, letting the water cascade off him and onto the floor of the room as he got his feet under him and bolted for the clothing racks. "Do we have a profile yet??"

"Negative, Commander," Merlin replied while Faith and Buffy jerked themselves up from what they had been doing.

"What's going on?"

"Shh..." Xander held up a hand as he passed a thin drying cloth over himself, then grabbed for his uniform. "What do we have, merlin?"

"The incoming vessel registers a displacement of 700,000 metric tons on Niume's gravetic sensors, and is leaving a mildly radioative wake as it passes. It's approaching the Earth on a course for orbit over the west coast of the United States and is not on course to pass any of our direct observation systems until it is almost in orbit."

"Damn it... Who's on standby?"

"The Eagles, Sir."

"Scramble them."

"Yes Commander."

"So that's Earth..."

"Huh, I kind of expected something... I don't know, bigger."

"Hush Neelix," Kes smirked, slapping the Telaxian on the shoulder. "They'll hear you."

Neelix shrugged happily, "So?"

"You'll hurt their feelings," She said, still smiling. "That's their home."

After a moment she went on, "besides, this is Earth from almost four centuries ago... I think it's incredible."

"That may be, but it just looks like a dirty planet to me." Neelix shrugged, then grinned, "But if you enjoy it, then I'm happy to see it to."

She rolled her eyes, turning her head to note the other conversations going on.

"We have to locate Captain Braxton," Captain Janeway was saying, "Ensign Kim, do you think you can find him?"

Kim grimaced slightly, then tilted his head. "Maybe. I can configure our sensors to exclude the planetary signals... look for power sources that match our scans of Braxton's time ship..."

"He's on to something," Tom Paris hissed to B'elanna Torres, comically wagging his eyebrows. "I can tell because his lips are moving."

Harry paused to scowl at his friend as B'Elanna slapped the errant pilot while rolling her eyes and hiding a smile of her own, then sighed and turned back to the Captain. "Yes, I think we can locate him... if any of his equipment is active."

"Very well. Voyager will assume a high orbit, well above the detection range of the local instrumentation," She decided, "and we'll begin our scans."

The warble of the scramble alert sent cards, food, and drink flying as the pilots of the Iron Eagles sprinted for their planes. The Hammerheads looked like crouching raptors as the pilots launched themselves into the advanced fighters, and belted in quickly.

"This is Eagle Lead," Douglas Masters said calmly, "All Eagles call in."

"Eagle Two," Valeri Zuinekov said in her accented voice, "Ready to go."

"Eagle Three," Rudy called out, "I'm good to go, Boss."

Oone by one the rest of the Eagles, many of them Doug's students from Chappy's delinquent academy, called in and announced that their planes were ready to go. When they were done, Doug nodded and tapped in a final confirmation.

"Iron Eagles, Ready to Fly. What's the what, merlin?"

"Hold one moment, Eagles," Merlin said calmly. "Information is still coming in."

"Aw come on!" Rudy complained, "Are we scrambling or what?"

The Hammerheads began to whine to life as the pilots brought their turbine reactors up to full standby, rocking them in their seats.

"Can it, Rudy." Doug snapped, "We'll know when Merlin knows."

Around them they could see more planes being pulled into position as the craft for Warbird and the Angels were both prepped and moved into position to fill the ready one slots that the Eagles might soon be vacating.

"Well..." Xander said after a moment, "It's not the Goa'uld."

That much was obvious, the sleek lines of the ship that was gliding into orbit was as far from Goa'uld design as was possible without using Atlantean fractal fabrication. The ship above was obviously built for speed, and Xander wouldn't be surprised if it could even enter atmospheric environments. Otherwise, whoever built it wasted a lot of space on those sleek lines.

"Indeed." merlin replied with an odd inflection, "It is the USS Voyager, Naval Construction Contract 74656, United Federation of Planets."

"Never heard of em."

"That would be because they are not due to be formed for approximately another... hundred and fifty years." Merlin replied dryly, "That is an Earth ship, built in the Utopia Planitia Shipyards on Mars in the year 2371."

"Whoa!" Faith exclaimed, eyes wide.

"What!?" Buffy screeched.

Xander just groaned, looking over at General Grey. "This is gonna get messy."

Grey just snorted, "Compared to what?"

"Point," Xander conceded. "Alright, I think we can assume that they aren't here to bomb us and..."

"One point, Commander," Grey raised a hand, "How does Merlin know who and what they are?"

Merlin took it upon himself to respond, "Time is my element, General. I recognize when something is out of place in it."

Grey raised his eyebrows, but did comment forther.

"Now that that's 'cleared ups'," Xander smiled, "What do we do about them?"

"Can they detect our Fighters?" Grey asked calmly, trying to take in everything he could.

"Not in their current stance, certainly." Merlin replied, "They are currently running in extreme stealth mode, and their active emissions are well below the detection threshold for Hammerhead Fighters."

"Then we launch." Grey replied, "Get our boys into place, just in case."

Xander nodded, "Agreed. Merlin?"

"Eagles are no cleared for launch, I'm directing full data to their computers now, Commander."

"Good." Xander sighed, "Now... do we talk to them?"

"Not until we have fighters in place, Commander." Grey said, shaking his head. "At least."

"Agreed." merlin said calmly.

"Alright then," Xander nodded in agreement, "then that brings up our next question... Do we advise the SGC and the US Government of their presence?"

"Absolutely." Grey responded instantly.

"I would caution against it," Merlin replied immediately.

"What? Why!?"

"The United States Government, and the SGC, have been making periodic attempts to locate this facility, additionally certain aspects of the Government have shown themselves to be... unscrupulous in their pursuit of advanced technology. Advising them that technology from nearly four centuries in the future is currently sitting in orbit above them may well result in actions not to our, or the Earth's, best interest."

A silence descended as they considered that, and Xander was the first to break it.

"I'm sorry to say, but I think I agree with Merlin, general. At least until we know more about these people and what they're doing here. I know enough about time travel to be very uncomfortable with them being in orbit," He said grimly, "I want them gone, ASAP."

Grey grimaced, shaking his head, but finally nodded. "You're the Boss, Sir."

"Go Go Go!"

The call came through and Doug Masters pushed the throttle control wide open as he felt the ring transporter take hold of him, and then was instantly slammed back into his seat as the Hammerhead appeared in the skies over Avalon, standing on it's twin reactors, and lunged into the air.

Behind him the other seven members of the Iron Eagles flashed into existence, already hurtling skyward at over five thousand miles per hour and accelerating.

"Keep tight, Eagles," Doug called, "We've got a bogey in orbit, but we're just gonna Shepard him a bit so keep those grubby fingers off the triggers boys and girls."

"I think I have a hit, Captain." Harry Kim announced from his console, eyes glued to the LCARS display.


"Los Angeles. I can't pin it down any closer from this far up, though."

"Can we get closer without risking detection? Janeway asked in clipped tones.

"From what? Radar? Sure. But if we drop down much more, we'll be seriously at risk of having someone put a telescope on us, Captain."

"Time travel..." Janeway glowered, "The past is the future, the future is the past... I swore I wouldn't get withing ten lightyears of one of these damned anomaly things. I hate time travel."

He sighed, shaking her head. "Alright. Away teams. We'll go down and look for the sources from the ground."

Xander Harris looked at the screen and shook his head.

"Time travel, why did it have to be time travel?" He muttered, shaking his head. "I HATE time travel."

Chapter 3

"Whoa, you see that, Eagle Lead?"

Doug frowned, noting the highlighted information coming across his HUD, "Roger that, Four. Command, we're reading a landing ship detaching from the main vessel. Please advise."

Xander, feeling more than a little antsy sitting back in the safety of Avalon's command and control center eyed the visual scans of the new contact. "Clumsy looking thing. Troop lander?"

"Shuttlecraft," Merlin replied, "Multipurpose surface to orbit vehicle frame."

"It's too small to carry many people," Grey said after a moment. "Is it armed?"

"Affirmative. I read coil based capacitors for energy weapons in it's space frame."

Xander nodded, "Doug, this is Harris."

"Go ahead Commander."

"Detach two fighters to shadow the new contact. Original orders remain in effect."

"Yes Sir, Eagle Two, take Three and keep an eye on our friend there."

"Very well, Eagle Lead," Valeri said, her fighter peeling off from the formation and moving to approach the shuttle.

"Merlin, are they communicating from ship to shuttle?" Xander asked after a moment.

"Uncertain. I no longer have the capacity I once had. Am contacting Uluru to request an active scan for signals."

"Do it." Xander ordered.

"Shuttle to Voyager, we're almost in position Ma'am."

"Good work, Tom." Janeway's voice came over the comm as the shuttlecraft penetrated the atmosphere and began it's descent. "Be careful you aren't spotted."

Tom grinned ear to ear, "Not to worry, Ma'am. Piece of cake."

He worked the controls, his fingers flying over the interface like a pianist over the ebony and ivory keys, and the shuttle dove hard for the ground.

Valeri Zuineko gritted her teeth as she worked her stick and throttle, flipping her Hammerhead end for end in pursuit of the diving shuttle.

"Damned hotdog pilot, flies like Douglas!" She muttered, killing power as the atmosphere thickened again and the control surfaces of the hammerhead let her free fall glide in the wake of the craft. "You with me three?"

"Right with you, Two."

"Command, the landing craft appears to be heading toward the west coast of the United States."

"Confirmed, continue following."

"Confirmed, Command."

"Ease in, Eagles... minute adjustments only now..." Doug whispered over his foldcom as the gleaming hull of the Voyager appeared ahead of him.

She was one sleek ship, he'd give her that much, and he hoped he wouldn't be called on to put any holes in her hull. The odd protrusions along her rear hull seemed flimsy, though, ungainly in their own way. It was strange then, that the overall effect of the design was to instill a sense of speed.

"Command, this is Eagle Lead. We're in position." He said softly as he killed his velocity relative to the ship he and his team were boxing in.

"Confirmed, Eagle Lead," Commander Harris' voice came through a moment later. "Hold tight, Doug. We're going to talk with them if we can figure out what frequency they're on."

"Oh joy." Doug whispered back, "How about next time you sneak up on the tiger, and then *I* yell in it's ear?"

Harris chuckled at that, then came back, "Hey Doug?"

"Yeah Boss?"

"Why are you whispering?"

"Tom's almost down, Captain," Harry Kim said, frowning at his screen.

"Something wrong, Ensign?" Chakotay asked, looking over.

"No..." Harry said unconvincingly, "It's just... I keep reading sensor ghosts, Commander."

"Sensor ghosts?" Janeway looked over sharply, "Where?"

"In the wake of the shuttle..." Harry shook his head, "It's probably residual ionization from the shuttle's drive, Ma'am... With our sensors set this low, I'm having trouble picking out details, Ma'am."

"Understood." Janeway nodded, "If you get something solid, let me know."

"Aye Ma'am."

"It looks like he's headed for LA," Xander frowned, shaking his head. LA was a little too close to home for his taste. "Merlin, have we got any idea what frequencies they're on?"

"Not yet, Commander. Uluru is currently scanning all frequencies while Niume and I supplement his processing power. No results yet."

"He's getting close to LA, Commander," Grey reminded him. "We could be looking at a major incident if we have to intercept much closer."

Xander nodded, grimacing. "I know. Eagle Three?"

"Yes Commander?" Veleri's voice came back instantly.

"Paint the bogey, warn him off of LA."

"Yes Commander," The russian's voice sounded a little too eager, and Xander sighed as he rolled his eyes.

"Doug," He said a moment later, "Heads up, we're letting the Russian out of the gate. Things could get hot up there."

"Alright, Tuvok, we're coming up on Los Angeles now." Tom replied, "We'll start roving scans from the shuttle and..."

A warning sound on his LCARS panel caught Tom's attention and he turned to look sharply at the screen. "What the...?"

"What is it, Lieutenant?"

"We've been targeted!" Tom blinked in shock, instantly tapping a command into the interface.

The shuttlecraft immediately accelerated as it banked hard away from the source of the targeting and began to climb.


"We've got company, Commander." Tom said grimly, "Two fighters from the look of it... They're keeping up with us!"

"That seems highly unlikely, Lieutenant."

"Highly irritating too!" Paris called over his shoulder, activating a new evasive protocol while tapping in a series of variables.

The shuttle rose from the ground, powering hard for orbit again, while Tuvok activated a commlink.

"Tuvok to Voyager."

"Come in, Tuvok, what's going on?"

"We've been located, Captain. Mr Paris informs me that we are being pursued by fighter craft."

There was a brief pause, then the Captain came back, "Understood. Return to Voyager."

"We're on our way, Captain," Tom gritted out, "but they're hanging with us!"

Another, longer pause, at that.

"Tom? We read you as being in sub orbital space and climbing. Are you sure that you are being pursued?"

"Oh Aye Aye Ma'am!"

"Very well, we'll move to assist."

Merlin looked up, a satisfied smirk on his features.

"We've isolated their communication band, Commander." He said, "They're using a subspace band that provides short range FTL capability."

"Can we talk to them?"

"Yes Commander."

"Very well," Xander adjusted his uniform as he turned to the large screen. "Open a channel."

"Harry, scan the shuttle. Look for his pursuers." Janeway said, leaning forward. "Baytart, prepare to take us into a lower orbit."

"Aye Aye Ma'am."

Harry Kim activated Voyager's powerful main sensor dish, turning it's focus on the ascending shuttle, and instantly blinked.

"Got them!" He announced, "Two fighters, climbing fast after Tom and the shuttle! They've got targeting beams on, but Tom seems to be keeping them back..."

"Lock phasers onto those fighters." Janeway ordered.

"Captain," Chakotay whispered quietly, "We might be tripping off a paradox here, Kathryn... They're supposed to be here, we aren't."

"I'm not so sure of that," Janeway replied, face dark. "Twentieth century Earth didn't have any fighter craft capable of keeping up with a shuttlecraft. Certainly not one piloted by someone like Tom."

Chakotay shrugged, leaning back. "If you say so."

"Holy!" Kim blurted in shock.

"What is it, Ensign!?" Janeway snapped in slipped tones.

"We've been targeted, ma'am!"

"Those fighters?" Janeway blinked, frowning.

"No Ma'am, from a higher orbit!"

"What!?" Chakotay half rose from his seat, looking around, "That's impossible!"

Harry shrugged helplessly, the frowned in shock. "Captain... we're being hailed."

Janeway looked back, and her face set as she turned back to the screen, "On screen."

A face appeared on the screen a moment later of a young man, almost a boy, dressed in a space black uniform that seemed to gleam with an almost inner light.

"USS Voyager, you are in violation of Earth space. Please state your intentions or we will be forced to demand that you leave Earth orbit."

Chapter 4

The woman on the screen, the Captain, Xander presumed, looked at him incredulously for a moment while her jaw dropped open which gave him time to view the file that Merlin had opened when the signal was accepted.

"Who do I have the 'pleasure' of speaking with?"

Xander looked back up, surprised that she'd gotten her feet under her quite so fast. She was now looking at the screen with a determined look.

"Commander Alexander Harris." He told her, looking up from the file, "Captain Janeway."

She jerked back like he'd slapped her in the face, her expression becoming instantly wary. "How do you know who I am?"

"Temporal Anomolies... I hate time travel," Xander said, shaking his head. "For your information, you're late."

She blinked in shock, "Excuse me?"

"You," He said again, "Are late. The USS Voyager was due here last year. Nineteen Ninety Six. Which means that we have a temporal anomaly on our hands... which makes for a few thousand in my own personal file. For your sake, I hope you don't have as many of these to deal with as I do."

She froze for a moment, then looked at him with narrowed eyes, "Are you connected with Braxton? Enforcing the Temporal Prime Directive??"

Xander blinked, glancing at the file out of the corner of his eye, then shrugging. "Afraid not. Not even sure what that is."

"Then who are you?"

"I'm the man commanding the eight fighters currently targetting you with ship killer missiles, Captain." Xander told her flatly, "So if you don't mind, I'd like to know what you're doing here."

"Why don't you tell me?" She demanded, "You already seem to know everything else."

"Hardly," Xander shook his head, "I know what was placed in the computer networks by Chronowerks Corporation in Nineteen Ninety Six in the previous timeline."

"How would you know any of this??"

"We have Temporally shielded equipment." Xander told her flatout. "Unfortunately, the data I have on you is largely limited to basic biographies of the ship and crew. There is evidence that Chronowerks had your entire database, however it was damaged before it became net accessible. Which means, I know who you are... not why you're here."

Janeway stared back at him, feeling oddly out of her depth. After a moment's consideration she folded her arms on her chest, "Alright. We were in the Delta Quadrant when a ship appeared from a temporal anomaly. It's commander said that he was going to destroy us for violating the Temporal Prime Directive, before the fact. We never got a full story out of him before he opened fire. We returned fire, damaged his ship, and were sucked into the warp with him. Now we need to find him in order to return to our own time."

Xander looked over at Grey, who looked back and gave his head a shake as if to clear it. Behind them, Faith crowed with laughter.

"Damn, Xan!" She roared, "I thought we had it bad!"

"Damn it, Faith, shut up..."

Thomas Eugene Paris strode through the hallways of Voyager, Commander Tuvok at his side, heading for the turbolifts. They'd been chased back to Voyager by the almost ghostly targeting beams of a pair of fighters that he hadn't been able to get much more than a wisp of a sensor image off, yet that wisp alone was familiar to the young man.

"Bridge." Tuvok said grimly as the lift doors closed, though Tom had to admit that Tuvok was pretty much always grim.

"Doesn't make sense," Tom offered as they rushed upward.

Tuvok didn't reply.

"Twentieth century Earth didn't have any fighters that could do what they did." Paris went on, "Even the best fighters they made could only barely manage sub-orbital altitudes, and they didn't make many of those."

"Nevertheless," Tuvok said, "They have managed to do just that."

"Yeah..." Tom trailed off, thinking of that sensor ghost. "I wonder..."

The door opened, cutting off what he wondered, and they strode out into the Bridge. Both men paused in surprise when they saw that the Captain was talking to someone on the viewscreen, but Tuvok shook off his surprise almost without pausing.

Tom, however, froze in place and just stared.

"Tom? Tom! Tom!" Harry hissed, "What's with you?"

Tom shook his head, noticing suddenly that he had become the center of attention. Not normally a situation he minded, but this time he tried to shake it off.

"Nothing... it's... nothing. Just... thought I saw someone I knew."

"Damn it Faith, shut up..."

The man on the screen was shaking his head, looking skyward as the brunette behind him cackled with laughter. Captain Janeway and Chakotay were exchanging confused, but amused, looks, and a man with military bearing on the screen was just covering his eyes in obvious embarrasment.

"Oh, come on Boytoy," The brunette was smirking, "At least when we pull the time trick we at least sorta meant to do it. These jokers are completely fucked."

Tom started choking and coughing right then and there.

"Lieutenant Paris!" Chakotay snapped, glaring at him.

"S... sorry Commander," He said, pounding his chest, "Just swallowed the wrong way."

Janeway and Chakotay both spared Tom dirty looks, but neither said anything further.

"Be that as it may," Captain Janeway went on, "We do need to locate Captain Braxton. We tracked his technology signature to Los Angeles. I don't want to step on your toes, Mr Harris, but we have to go down there."

Xander Harris frowned back out at them from the screen, sighing slightly. "I'll arrange for local guides, Captain. As well as clothing, transport, whatever you need. Do maintain your present orbit, however, the Government's detection net will certainly pick you up if you drop too much lower, and neither of us needs the ruckus that would cause."

Janeway nodded, "Very well."

"I'm sending coordinates for a meeting place now," Xander went on, "I'll meet your team in LA personally, along with a couple friends. I won't expect you to come unarmed, but don't carry anything... shall we say, obvious?"

Janeway nodded again.

"In the meantime, I'll leave the fighter wing where it's at. No offense intended, Captain, but my information on you isn't as solid as I'd like."

"That's fine, Commander Harris." Janeway said flatly, "I'll do as you suggest."

Xander nodded once, then the screen went dark.

Janeway leaned back, her expression musing. "What do you think, Commander?"

"He's certainly... not what I expected." Commander Chakotay half smiled. "He's obviously not with the local governments, and he seems almost as worried about the timeline as we are."

"I'm not sure I'd say that, Commander," Janeway mused, "More like he's worried about what kind of headaches we might bring along with us, more than what contamination we might cause."

"Isn't that the same thing?"

"Not really," She shook her head, "Not really at all."

"If you say so."

"I'm going to meet this Mr Harris," Janeway decided after a moment. "I'll lead this team. Tom, you and Tuvok will be with me."

"Captain!" Chakotay protested.

"No, Commander, I want to get a measure of the man in person." She decided, "We'll still need to use the Shuttle as a beaming point, so B'Elanna, you'll be in command of that."

"Aye Captain," Torres replied instantly.

"Alright everyone, let's get ready."

"In the future, Ms Tasker," General Grey glared at Faith, "It might be best if you weren't to 'hang around' in the Command and Control section."

Faith snorted and shot the general an almost challenging look, but Xander cut her off.

"Knock it off, Faith." He growled, "That was entirely unprofessional."

"So what?"

"So now these people think they're dealing with amateurs," He snapped, "And if they're hostile, that might be all they need to think they can get away with something stupid."

"So we'll kick their ass." Faith said, swaggering.

"I'd rather avoid a conflict if I can, Faith." He ground out, shaking his head. "Merlin."

"Yes Commander?"

"Contact Kevin, tell him I'm heading for LA and I need a hand."

"Immediately, Sir."

"Is Angel Lead ready to fly?"

"Yes Commander."

"Alright, I'm gone." Xander said, striding for the door.

"Hey! What about me!?" Faith blurted.

"You go to your room and think about what you did!" Xander shouted over his shoulder just as the doors shut.

"Ooohhhh! That smart ass!"

"Hang on a sec," Kevin Sorbo said, reaching for the ringing cell phone as his director wailed CUT!

"Sorbo here."

"This is Merlin. The Commander has need of some help in Los Angeles. Are you free?" Merlin asked crisply.

"Uh, I'm a little tied up here at the moment," Kevin said, looking back at where the director was fuming in his direction. "Is it important?"

"Quite possibly, I'm afraid."

Kevin frowned, about to give in, when he looked up and his eyes brightened. "Will a replacement do?"

"It should."

"Good, I think Xander will thank me anyway. I'll get back to you in a minute."

Chapter 5

Flying a Hammerhead over Los Angeles without being spotted wasn't as easy as it might appear at first glance, but Xander was whistling in amusement to himself anyway as he flew well above the smog and cloud to his location, then did a quick ground scan. Finding what he was looking for, Xander couldn't quite keep the insane grin off his face as he set the hammerhead quickly down, dropping from fifteen thousand feet to fifteen in a little less than six seconds.

"I love this thing," He grinned, letting the landing gear crunch easily down on the cement under him, taking up the weight of the advanced fighter.

Xander deactivated the restraints, letting them flow easily off him as the cockpit slid open, and climbed out. He grabbed a marker from his pocket as he landed on the ground, then grabbed a piece of cardboard from the ground and scribbled on it quickly. Finally he tossed the cardboard onto the hammerhead, signaled the plane to lock up all functions, and then Xander turned around and walked away whistling.

Behind him, amidst the studio props for at least fourteen different movies and tv series, the Hammerhead Advanced Fighter stood waiting his return with the words 'Do not touch, Kevin Sorbo' scribbled on the side of it.

"Damn it, Xander!" Kevin Sorbo yelled, trying not to grin as the Director started cursing and spitting in the distance, "You've got to stop cackling whenever you see me taking a pounding! It's not respectful!"

Xander shrugged, unrepentant, "Sorry Kev. Was just enjoying watching you get the crap kicked out of you by the ladies."

He turned to where the women, dressed in skimpy amazon costumes, were scowling at him and tipped his head, "Ladies."

They rolled their eyes and quickly turned away, some of them muttering distinctly unladylike utterances. Xander just shrugged and grinned, "Anyway, you tell Merl that you were busy, huh?"

"Yeah, like you couldn't tell."

"Don't get smart with me, Greek-Boy," Xander smirked, "He also said you had a replacement but I could meet him here?"

Kevin smirked, "Turn around."

Xander did so, and his face broke out into a genuine smile when he saw Natalie standing there with hands on her cocked hips. "Damn, Kev. I owe you."

Kevin smiled slowly, not saying a word, but Xander felt the chill of it run up his spine and he spun back, "I didn't mean it like...!"

"Too late." Kevin smirked widely. "When you're done, call me. I'm sure I could find something for you to do around here."

"Ah damn it!" Xander snapped, kicking the ground as Kevin turned back to his work. "He always gets me like that!"

"Aw, poor boy."

Xander sighed, looking up at the ceiling. "You had to bring your friends, didn't you Nat?"

Natalie giggled, "Sorry, but I couldn't ditch Dylan when Alex called about this 'trouble' you had."

"Hey, why should the blond have all the fun??" Dylan smirked.

"Because the redhead scares most sane people," Xander replied dryly, turning around.

Dylan smirked, "Sane is boring."

"What's the problem," Alex asked seriously.

"Huh? Oh, I've got some friends coming into town and we need to show them around."

"That's it?" Dylan asked, disgusted, "You want tour guides? This sucks!"

Xander shrugged, smiling slightly, "Well, if you don't want to come..."

"Wait a minute..." Dylan's eyes narrowed as she glared at him, "You're holding back! Spill!"

Xander snapped his fingers, "Damn. So close."

Natalie snickered, shaking her head, "Xander stop baiting my friend. Seriously, what's the emergency?"

Xander checked his watch, "You'll have to see this to believe it, I think. Come on, I arranged to meet in Kevin's trailer."

"You mean *at* Kevin's trailer, right?"

"Yeah. Sure. What you said."

"Ok, we're in position." Tom Paris said as he finished programming the guidance system on the shuttle. "Just hold it steady right here and you shouldn't be spotted, ok?"

"I'm capable of flying a shuttle, Paris," B'Elanna growled at him, checking the program quickly herself.

As usual, she was impressed by the simple grace of Tom's programming, though she'd never tell him anything of the sort. He used less lines of commands to achieve more flexibility than she'd have believed possible.

"I'll be waiting for your signal," She said after finishing her survey of the program.

"Very good, Lieutenant," Captain Janeway said, checking her replicated period clothing one last time. "Energize."

"Energizing," B'Elanna replied, sliding her fingers up the power control as the energy humm filled the shuttle and the three figures behind her vanished.

"Are you sure Kevin said we could wait in here?" Alex asked, looking around the spacious trailer.

"Nope." Xander grinned, "I arranged these coordinates before Kev turned me down."

"Coordinates?" Dylan frowned, "That's a weird choice of words..."

A low humm filled the room, and Xander smirked.

"Oh, not really."


"What the!"


The humm coalesced into three glowing figures, then faded along with the glow leaving two men and a woman standing there in the middle of the trailer.

"Captain," Xander smiled, "Nice to see you in person."

Janeway smiled cooly at him, "We weren't given much choice, now where we?"

"Sorry, but I couldn't let you guys go barreling around LA on your own," Xander replied with a smile, "The government is a little Xenophobic right now, I don't think they'd really react well if you were spotted."

"Xander!" Natalie smacked Xander on the arm, her face actually outraged, "What the hell is going on!?"

Alex was staring at the three in complete fascination, while Dylan's jaw was still somewhere around the floor.

"Oh, so sorry, Natalie, Alex, Dylan, this is Kathryn Janeway, Thomas Eugene Paris and...," Xander paused in the middle of reciting names from the personnel files he'd read to look at the tall black man who was observing the entire situation with an expression of equanimity. Xander's eyes rested on the man's head where a watch cap was pulled low over his ears and a wry look entered Xander's eyes, "And let me guess... Murray, right?"

The black man, Lt Commander Tuvok, Xander knew from his files, just looked at him and raised a single eyebrow, but Tom Paris started snickering.

"Tom," Janeway growled, causing the blond man to straighten up and rapidly wipe the smile off his face.

"Sorry, Captain." He said quickly, though the twinkle of humor in his eyes remained.

"Ok, whoa! Time out! Hold on! Arretez! Halt!," Dylan finally spoke up, jabbing her fingers into the palm of her other hand, "How the hell did they pull the appearing from thin air thing??"

"After everything you've seen around me, THIS bothers you??," Xander asked, chuckling. "Talk about being easy, Dylan."

"Hey!," Dylan glared at him for a second, then shrugged and grinned, "I resemble that remark."

Xander and the girls chuckled, while Janeway looked around in consternation.

"Excuse me," She said, waving a hand, "Do you mind? We're in a bit of a jam here, and since you have forced your help on us, I'd like to get on the move."

"Alright, alright," Xander nodded. "Say, you girls bring your cars?"

"Yeah, of course." Natalie replied.

"Ok, good, we'll need them. We're going to be looking for something in town, and I think that our friends here brought a way to locate it...?" he trailed off, looking over at the three, and Janeway nodded.

"Yes, we did."

"Alright. We'll split up into groups, and get this done fast. No offence, Kathryn," Xander smirked at the redhead, "But I want you people off my territory as fast as possible."

"Perhaps," Janeway muttered in reply, "However I'm rapidly becoming very curious as to exactly what claim you really have to this 'territory'."

"Ah ah, Kathryn," Xander smiled, wagging a finger at her, "You don't want to disrupt things accidently, now do you? Minimum involvement."

She scowled at him, but reluctantly backed down.

Xander just grinned, "Anyway. Why don't you come with Nat and me, while Tommy over there rides with Alex and 'Murray' pairs up with Dylan."

"Hey!" Dylan spoke up, "Why can't I take the blonde?"

"Because I've read his personnel jacket," Xander replied dryly, "And to be honest, I want LA to be standing this time tomorrow."

"Party pooper."

Tom looked over at Dylan, his eyes speculative as he smiled slowly and easily, "Aw, I'm sure that we couldn't cause that much trouble."

"Forget it, Lieutenant." Janeway growled, having already drawn the same conclusions as Xander had. Mixing a girl with this 'Dylans' attitude and Tom Paris would be like venting antimatter directly into the Nacelles.

Fun to watch, perhaps, but only if you're at least a lightyear away.

"Whatever you say, Captain." Tom just grinned, shrugging as he smiled at the redhead.

Janeway sighed, shaking her head.

This was going to be a long away mission. She could just feel it.

Tuvok, for his part, made no outward expression of any kind concerning his 'road partner', but Kathryn could see in his eyes that he wasn't exactly thrilled with the match up. She didn't blame him in the least, but there was little to do about it at the moment.

After all, she sure as hell didn't want to ride with the young redhead either, and being Captain had SOME privileges.

Chapter 6

"Take a right here, Miss Cook."

"Right-Oh," Natalie smiled, turning the Ford Thunderbird right at the next intersection.

Xander sat in the passenger seat, passing occasional smiles in Natalie's direction, but mostly just watching the people and cars whip past as they cruised the streets of LA. Behind him, Captain Janeway stole occasional glances at the small device she kept cupped in her palm, and called out directions.

After a while, though, she also leaned forward slightly and spoke up a bit.

"So, Mr Harris, what is your story anyway?"

Xander winced, exchanging glances with Natalie and caught her surprised and concerned look.

"Don't call me Mr Harris, if you don't mind," Xander said over his shoulder, "Xander is fine. As for my story, well it's a complicated one."

Janeway pursed her lips, a knowing look on her face, "Is that so? How complicated could it be?"

"I'm driving around Los Angeles with a woman from the twenty fourth century," Xander replied, drawing a shocked look from Natalie, "How complicated do you suppose it could be?"

Janeway had to laugh and nod, "Alright, point."

"What are you talking about??" Natalie stared, eyes wide as she drove through the mid-town traffic without even looking at the road.

"Didn't I mention it? The Captain back there is an unwilling time traveler," Xander told her nonchalantly.

"Why is it that all the weird stuff happens to you!?"

"Just lucky?"

Natalie scowled and smacked him across the shoulder while dodging a taxi cab, "not funny!"

Janeyway watched the exchange, a hint of tolerant amusement in her eyes, then frowned as she realized that something was off.

"Wait... You believe him??" Janeway asked, incredulous.

Natalie flipped an idle motion, shaking her head, "Why not? Early on in out relationship, we were attacked by Vampires and Supernatural Assassins, he lives with a Were-cat, and I'm pretty sure he's been to Atlantis."

Xander's head came up and he looked over at Natalie with wide eyes, "Nat! Ixnay on the life story!"

Janeway was just staring in confusion as Natalie grinned wide and shrugged, "Sorry, Xan."

Xander groaned shaking his head, "I need to write up some better security procedures."

"I don't work for you, remember?" She grinned, winking at him.

"If you want me working for *you* any time soon, I suggest you start thinking about it." Xander replied, his voice tinged with innuendo.

"Like we get to do much 'work' together anyway, you were in Paris for our last date!"

"I'm sorry, I had an entire order of assassins to kill!"


"What about you? You were in Hungary or something last week when we were due for dinner!"

"I have a job!"

"You were smuggling supplies to dissidents in Kazakstan!"

"They were medical supplies!"

<This can't be the Earth of our past,> Janeway thought, eyeing the two as they argued, <I'm pretty sure that people were supposed to be SANE in the Earth of our past.>

"So big boy, what do you do for fun," Dylan asked as she tooled the cherry red Vette down the streets of LA, weaving in and out of traffic with a reckless disregard for the laws.

"Please do not do anything to attract attention, Ms Saunders." Tuvok told her stoically, checking his tricorder, "And make the next left turn."

"You got it, hot stuff!" Dylan smirked, throwing the wheel over and tapping the brakes.

The Vette went into a slew, cutting off two cars and a Semi, and then roared down the street Tuvok had directed. The Vulcan didn't bother looking behind him, he merely glanced over at Dylan with a cold piercing look, and smothered a sigh, "Perhaps if you were to follow the posted traffic laws?"

"Hey, are you from LA?" Dylan challenged him, "No? Well don't diss my driving."

"I wouldn't think of it," Tuvok replied, "Certainly not while in a moving vehicle with you behind the controls."

The comment was delivered so flatly that it took Dylan several seconds to catch up to what he said, when she did she stared over at him in shock, "Was that a JOKE?"

"It most certainly was not."

Dylan just laughed, "You can't fool me! That was a joke! It was funny too!"

"Merely because something is amusing to you does not make it a joke," Tuvok replied, "Take the next right. I believe that were are closing on the source of the signals."

"Fine." She pouted, turning right with alacrity, "But I still think you made a joke."

"Indeed. Perhaps you need to reassess your sense of humor."

"There! You did it again!"

"It's a weak signal," Tom sighed, "but I think we're getting closer."

"Good, I've got to get back to my boyfriend before shooting wraps for the night." Alex told him.

"Oh? You're boyfriend's an actor?"

She nodded, smiling, "Yeah. He plays Autylocus."

"The king of thieves?" Paris smiled, "I loved that character in the Hercules remakes for the Holodeck."

"Pardon?" Alex blinked.

"Oh, they redid all the Classics about thirty years ago for the Holodecks," Tom said airily, "I had an uncle who bought the whole Legendary series as soon as they came out. Hecules, Xena, The Iolous Chronicles, And the Immortal Journeys of Autylocus. Have to admit, though, some of the Autylocus stuff was really far fetched."

Alex was staring over at him like he was an lunatic, but Tom didn't notice.

"H... how so?"

"Oh, all that stuff about being reincarnated as famous thieves and spies throughout history, then being frozen in an underground bunker and waking up in the twentieth century? It was just a real example of how writers in this era were running out of ideas."


The Chinese beauty forced her attention back to the road, trying not to worry overly about the obvious mental patient she was sharing a car with. Xander had a LOT of explaining to do. Yes indeed. He had SO much explaining to...

"Hey, hang a left!" Tom snapped suddenly, "I'm getting a strong reading from just over here. It's a comm badge!"

"A what?"

"Just go!"

"I'm going, I'm going!"

"We're approaching the signal." Tuvok said stiffly, eyes on the street as they slowed.

"Oh yeah? To what?"

"I am not certain, it is a comm badge signal, so perhaps it is a person. Perhaps not, however."

"That doesn't narrow it down much." Dylan complained.

"No, it does not." Tuvok replied stiffly.

Dylan waited for him to say something, anything else, but he apparently considered the conversation complete and went back to what he had been doing. That is he continued staring at the device in his hand, then looking up at the street.

"It is coming this way," Tuvok said finally. "Stop here."

Dylan hit the brakes, and the Vette cut into a skid, coming to a stop right next to the curb. She whooped in enjoyment, then looked over at the black guy who was disappointingly calm.

"In the future, I believe you might restrict yourself to such actions in cases of emergency only," He told her, as he opened the door and climbed out.

<Damn!> Dylan bitched, getting out on her side, <What does it take to rile this guy??>

"Down this alley," Tom said, "Moving away from us."

"Well come on!" Alex jumped out of the BMW convertible, not bothering to open her door, and Tom had to grin as he did the same.

The Starfleet officer surreptitiously checked his phaser as he followed the Asian beauty down the alley, noticing quickly that there was a man up ahead, pushing a shopping cart.

"There!" He yelled, pointing.

The man looked back at them, then turned and bolted.

Alex and Tom took off at a full run, jumping over cartons and junk as they tried to catch the runner ahead of them. The light at the end of the alley grew brighter as they got closer and closer, until the man burst out, and right into an outstretched foot that knocked him literally end for end.

Tom winced as the man hit the ground in what looked to be a painful thump, and his cart continued out into traffic where a truck made short work of it. He and Alex slowed to a halt as they came out of the alley, noting that Tuvok and Dylan were standing over the crumpled body. The black man looked stoic as always, but Dylan was looking defensive.

"What? He was running! I stopped him."

"It was unnecessary to render him unconscious, Miss Saunders."

"Says you!"


Tom and Alex both sighed, shaking their heads.

"Chronowerks." Janeway sighed.

"I told you they were involved," Xander said as they parked outside and looked at the ultramodern building.

"Well they certainly have some twenty-seventh century technology inside, and it's active."

"Well ain't that a kick." Xander snorted, shaking his head. "If they have weapons that could have saved lives last year, I'll personally kick Starling's ass."

Chapter 7

Tom knelt by the fallen man, waving the tricorder over the body and nodded, "He's got a commbadge, and some high tech implant work too."

"Mr Paris, look at him." Tuvok said calmly, standing over them.

Tom glanced up, then looked back at the unconscious form. "What?"

"It's Captain Braxton."

Tom looked at the dirty, bearded face, and frowned, "You sure?"

"Indeed I am," Tuvok nodded.

"Well then, as they say... Paydirt." Tom said, closing the tricorder and tucking it in his pocket. "Help me get him up and into the car."

"The car? Whose car? Not mine!" Dylan objected, holding up her hands.

"Indeed not, there is no room." Tuvok said, looking at the two seater Vette.

The three of them glanced at each other, then to Alex.

She started to protest, started to say 'hell no!', then just gave up.

Alex sighed, "Jason's so going to kill me."

Dylan smirked, as the two men looked at her.

"I'll get the BMW," she sighed again.

About halfway up the alley, she stopped and looked back, "But all three of you are eating dinner at my place tonight!"

Tom frowned, looking over at Tuvok, "Is that supposed to repay her somehow?"

"I do not know, Lieutenant," Tuvok shrugged, "I am unfamiliar with human custom."

They glanced over at Dylan, who had gone a sickly white as all the blood left her head. She looked over her shoulder at the Vette, "You know, maybe we can cram him in the trunk..."

Janeway closed the tricorder and looked at the building again, frowning. "We have to find out what's in there, it's too dangerous to leave in the hands of someone from this time period."

Xander snorted.

"Did I say something funny?"

"Well, yeah actually." Xander grinned, "I doubt that there's anything in there much more dangerous than what is currently being toyed around with by various factions already here on Earth. The US Government is experimenting with alien technology captured from Roswell in the fifties, they've got access to a Stargate found in Egypt in the thirties or so, and I know at least one group with access to an interstellar ship armed with weapons powerful enough to shatter planets."

Janeway stared at him, "In the twentieth century? Who?"

"Well, my group actually." Xander smirked, "But it's a secret... so, you know, mums the word."

She rolled her eyes, letting out an exasperated breath, "If you aren't going to take this seriously..."

"Oh, I do. I just don't think getting up tight about it is going to help," Xander grinned. "I suppose we'd better start by getting an idea of what we're dealing with."

He tapped the Foldcom ridding his jawline, "Merlin."

"Yes Commander."

"What birds have we got over LA right now?"

"The Chinese have a decent 'communications satellite' equipment with very adequate optics, the Russians have one of their weapon platforms, and the NRO has a K12 Satellite with Infrared capability."

"They downlooking now?"


"Ok, hack me into the feed of the NRO bird and patch in an image of Chronowerks corporation's headquarters."

"One moment."

Xander nodded and withdrew his field computer from it's place on his belt, holding it outjust in front of him. He activated the system and then took away his hand. The computer floated there in front of him for a moment, then split apart with a flash of light. It projected a screen in front of him, curving down with controls along the natural curve of his hands, and then lit up in a view of Los Angeles.

"Chronowerks." He said, and the image instantly zoomed in to one building, close enough that they could see themselves parked outside.

"Wow." Natalie grinned, "This is so cool."

Janeway eyed the technology, dumbfounded by it. She knew that it wasn't supposed to be here, and in fact had doubts if it could be duplicated in a Starfleet lab.


The image changed, now showing heatsources in and around the building. Xander slowly zoomed it in, locking in close on the interior of the Chronowerks building until he found something off.

"Now that doesn't look right..."

"What's that blank spot?" Natalie asked, leaning over.

"I don't know..." Xander replied, "It's like the satellite isn't reading anything there..."

"Perhaps it's shielded," Janeway put in.

Xander snorted, "You misunderstand me, Captain. I mean it's like the sattelite isn't reading *anything* there. I didn't even know it was possible for the limited hardware on modern spy satellites to actually *register* 'nothing'."

"It is not."

Merlin's voice, coming from the field computer, startled them at first, but Xander recovered quickly. "What do you mean?"

"I have located a new series of backdoors in the satellite hardware, Commander. These ones, are not mine." Merlin said, sounding rather annoyed. "And I believe that we have tripped a security flag within Chronowerks."

Xander smiled slowly, "Well, well, well. Not bad. Do they know that we're here?"

"Negative, Commander. Fold Comm is secure."

Xander nodded slowly, and deactivated the field comp. "Paranoia is a useful trait when you actually are being hunted. Thank you, Merlin."

There was no reply as Xander snagged the fieldcomp from mid air and returned it to his belt. He sighed, then turned to glance at Janeway, "This is going to get messy, Captain."

She returned his gaze steadily, "I might have a way to make it cleaner, but first we need to see what's inside that building."

"I suppose you want to break in?" Xander asked with a smirk.

"It wasn't my first choice, but given the situation..."

Natalie Cook looked up at the building, musing, "Security system will be top flight, and they're on their guard now if Merlin is right."

"Security shouldn't be a problem," Janeway said, shaking her head. "Not the electronic kind, at least. I can handle this."

"Pardon my saying so, Captain," Xander half smiled, "But you don't look like a cat burglar to me... and I've met quite a few cat burglars in my day."

"Relax," she said again, "and just wait here. I'm going to go in."

She was halfway through climbing out of the car by the time Xander had managed to react, and he twisted in his seat and looked at her as if she was insane. "Are you nuts? We don't know what he's got in there!"

"It has to be done." Janeway replied, clearing the car door and landing on the cement sidewalk.

Xander banged his head against the headrest several times and growled, "Ahhhh... damn it! Hold on, I'll come too!"

He climbed out quickly, shaking his head, "I've got to be out of my mind."

"I can handle this alone," Janeway insisted.

"No, you can't." He glared right back, then glanced back at Natalie who was already climbing out of the Thunder bird herself, "No Nat, you've got to stay here. We'll be back out as soon as we can."

Natalie glared at Xander, "Do I look like someone you leave at home while you go off to war??"

Xander snorted, "Nat, last time I checked, you left ME while you went off to battle, so don't give me that crap. This isn't your mission, it's mine. I just needed some support and backup, and you volunteered remember. Relax, I'll be right back."

"You're not coming." Janeway interjected flatly.

"Then you're not *going*," Xander replied in an identical tone. "I'm not letting you traipse around the city, setting off one paradox after another, until I've got more migraines then brain cells. If I'm going to deal with those head splitters, then I'm going to be in on the fun too by god!"

Janeway stared at him for a long moment, her jaw actually open just slightly, "You're kidding right?"

He just grinned, "You tell me."

She shook her head, "Come on."

He chuckled, waving to Natalie, then frowned when Janeway started walking the wrong direction.

"Hey!," He chased after her, "You're going the wrong way?"

"Am I?" She smirked, stepping into an alley.

"Yeah, you am!," He told her, jogging up beside her as he pointed backward, "The building's that way."

"Must have missed that," She told him dryly, reaching under her lapel and touching something. "Janeway to shuttlcraft."

"Shuttlecraft here, Captain," A female voice announced.

"I need to you scan the inside of the building across the street from me," Janeway said, "Then beam me and my companion as close to the future technology signatures as you can."

"I can do that, Captain. One moment."

The voice stopped then, and Xander frowned. "Beamed? Is that your teleporter thing? It's safe right?"

Janeway spared him dry look, and he shrugged.

"Hey, I can tell that *you* trust it, but you know I kind of like to see the machinery that's about to boil me down to my component atoms and..."

"Energizing, Captain."

"Energ...!?" Xander started to say, only to be cut off as a light came and whisked him away.

Chapter 8

Harold Maybourne, Lt Colonel in the United States Air Force (Technically, when he needed to be), looked up in annoyance as the young aide burst into his office.


The Aide flushed at the tone in his voice and stammered, "Ah... Sir... There's been..."

"Well? Out with it!"

"A security breech has been reported by Chronowerks security."

"What!?" Maybourne rose to his feet. "Are you kidding me??"

"No Sir. Mr Starling himself called it in, he wanted to know why we were using the NRO birds to spy on him."

Harry stormed around his desk, pushing out into the NID command facility he was currently based out of. "God damn it, who authorized that!?"

"No one sir..."

Maybourne paused, staring back, "Say that again."

"No one authorized it, Sir. Our records don't even show that the bird was looking down at LA at the time Starling gave."

"What the hell..." Harry paused, frowning. "Get people on the records... No, wait..."

He held up a hand, "Get NORAD on the records. Have them do a complete maintenance cycle of the bird..."

"Yes Sir..."

"And get me Starling on the line!"

The tingle of the energy beam let him go only a few subjective instants after it had taken him, but Xander shivered as it did, a wave of revulsion sweeping over him. "Oh God that was disturbing."

Janeway looked sharply over at him, humor tinted with serious emotions in her eyes, "I've always found it rather relaxing, actually."

"You probably can't feel each molecule in your body disconnecting," Xander muttered under his breath.


"Nothing." Xander shuddered again, then looked around. "Where are we?"

"Next to the shielded section," Janeway replied, flipping open her tricorder. "It's fifteen meters that way..."

She gestured to a wall before turning to look at a computer that was near them, "One moment, I'm going to access their system."

Xander nodded, waiting as she keyed in a series of commands on the little device.

"There," She nodded in satisfaction. "I'm in. Downloading the database now..."

"Hurry up, we could be detected any time."

She nodded, but didn't take her eyes off the tricorder. "Almost... wait..."


"There's a security program here... one second, I'm bypassing it. It's crude..." She looked up, "It's a vault command."

As she said that there was a rumble behind them and they both turned to the far wall she'd pointed too earlier in time to see it rumble down like a reverse garage door. When it was fully opened, they found themselves staring at something that one of them recognized.

"My God..." Janeway whispered, "It's the timeship."

Commander Chakotay stared at the blue green world that graced the screen and pondered it's meaning to him, and to his people.

The Earth was no longer the mother of his people in the time he came from, but here and now they were all still there, living below him. It was an unfathomable sensation to know that everyone in his family were rooted down there on this one fragile world.


They were so vulnerable like that.

The chirp of the commline opening shook him from his reverie as the Captain's voice came over the comm.

"Janeway to Voyager."

"Chakotay here, Captain."

"We're inside Chronowerks, Commander," The Captain said, "And we've found the timeship. It's intact."

"What?" Chakotay leaned forward, his face paling slightly. "Are you sure?"

"Yes, it looks like they've been able to make repairs. Commander, we can't leave it here."

Chakotay nodded, "What do you want me to do, Captain?"

"We'll have to risk being seen," She told him, "Bring Voyager in close... I'm sending you the coordinates now, beam the entire ship out."

Chakotay blinked, "Captain, that will severely tax our power reserves...."

"I'm aware of that, Commander. Just do it."

"Aye Captain."

The comm connection broke and Chakotay looked around at the bridge crew, "Well you heard the Captain. Baythart, take us in to the atmosphere. Ensign Kim... get ready to transport."

"Aye Captain."

"I don't know that this is a good idea," Xander said softly as he keyed open his fold-comm.

"I didn't hear you coming up with any ideas."

"Just because it's the only idea, doesn't make it a good one," Xander growled, "Merlin."

"Yes Commander?" The Artificial Entity's voice sounded instantly in his ear.

"I want you to scramble NORAD tracking capability when Voyager enters the atmosphere. The new equipment we gave them last year might be able to pick her up."

Janeway shot him a curious look.

"It will be done."

"Thank you, Merlin."

"New equipment?" She asked him as he let the connection close.

"Laser LIDAR detection pods," Xander responded, "Your shields might fool them, but they'll pick up the atmospheric disturbance for sure."

"I see." Janeway said testily, her mouth opening to say something else, but she was cut off when an alarm went off around them. "What...!?"

"Trouble." Xander growled, "Get us out of here, I don't want to shoot any guards!"

Someone pounded on the door even as Janeway reached for her comm-badge, "Janeway to Torres."

"Torres here, Captain."

"Two to beam out, priority transport!"


The humm and tingle of the transporter enveloped them as the door burst open and three men rushed in. One of them ran over to the computer, checking the system and frowning as he tried to determine what had happened. An electrical sound behind him snapped his head around in time to see his most prized possession fade into electrical static.

"No! Oh no... no!" He shook his head, swiveling around in the chair and typed furiously on his keyboard.

"Oh no you don't..."

Voyager shook as something blew deep down in her hull, throwing the inertial dampers out of wack for a moment. The emergency systems kept the dampers from doing anything extreme, like plastering Voyager's crew across one of the bulkheads in a pink smear, but they had to hang on to their seats and ride it out just the same.


"I don't know, Commander! I'm having trouble locking on suddenly... I had it, but it... it just slid away somehow!"

Chakotay started to growl something else, but was stopped when the computer systems abruptly shut down for a second.

"Now what!?"

"Someone's in the systems!" Kim said, wide eyed, "I can't keep him out! He... He's coming in over the transporter signal!"

"Cut it off!"

Kim tapped in a few commands, then paled. "I... I can't!"

"Manually, Ensign Kim!"

"Right Sir!" Kim said, ducking under his consol and pulling a panel off the wall behind him.

Many key systems, including transporter controls, were hardwired through the bridge for just such a case, or at least other emergency situations. Kim located the transporter relays and yanked their optronic fibres in a dazzling display of light and sparks as one of the power conduits surged through a breaker in response.

He flinched back, and the bridge went dark, but the ship seemed to even out as Baytheart let out a breath of relief.

"I have restored control, Commander..."

"Put us back in Orbit, Ensign."

"Aye Sir."

"Kes to the Bridge."

"What is it Kes, we're a little busy up here..."

"Well... Commander..." Kes sounded a little lost, "I'm afraid that I can't find the Doctor."

Chakotay frowned, "What?"

"The Doctor, Sir... He's not here."

"What do you mean he's not there? Where could he go!?"

"Hmm... I wonder what this is?"

"Please state the nature of the medical emergency..." The Doctor stated as he frowned, looking around the unfamiliar setting. "Where am I? Who are you!?"

Chapter 9

The duo rematerialized on the makeshift pad at the back of the shuttle as B'Elanna growled and tapped at the controls furiously.

"Ow! Crap!"

Janeway smirked, easily ducking her head to avoid the low ceiling of the craft, and moved forward. "Report, Lieutenant."

"Voyager was almost dragged out of orbit when they tried to transport the ship, Captain," B'Elanna replied tensely.

"What!?" Janeway dropped into the copilot's place, glaring at the readouts. "What happened?"

"There was a carrier wave that came back along the transport beam," the Engineer said, "it hacked into our database and disrupted system controls..."

"Nice security you've got on that thing," Xander Harris said darkly as he moved up to the front, rubbing his bruised skull. "And who built these things anyway? The Pygmy people??"

B'Elanna twisted in her seat, glaring at the figure who was dropping into one of the other seats, then her eyes widened as she realized that she didn't know who it was. "Who the hell??"

"B'Elanna Torres, meet Alexander Harris." Janeway said dryly, "Think of him as Tom Paris light."

Torres grimaced automatically at that.

Xander, for his part, spared the redheaded Captain a mild glare, then looked back at B'Elanna, "Xander, please. And given that this is my century, should your Mr Paris be 'Xander Harris light'?"

Janeway had to give the young man one thing at least, he thought quickly on his feet. Unfortunately he also spoke quickly, which largely mitigated any positive traits he might have.

"And, not to be a backseat driver," He went on, "But shouldn't one of you be looking at the controls?"

"They're on Automatic," B'Elanna replied automatically before looking over at Janeway, "Captain... should he BE here?"

"No, but try telling him that," Janeway shrugged.

Xander leaned forward, extending a hand to the Lieutenant, who took it in a daze as he shook her hand firmly. "Don't worry about me, you've got nothing here that's gonna be outside my experience. Well, I'm not familiar with your species..."

B'Elanna growled, getting her back up the way she did whenever anyone singled out her Klingon heritage.

"She's half klingon," Janeway replied, "Now, B'Elanna, I think it's time we fell back to Voyager."

"UH... Yes, Captain."

Xander raised an eyebrow as the woman went back to work, "Half Klingon? And the other half?"

B'Elanna gave him a look like she'd just heard a mental deficient speak for the first time, "Human of course."

"Oh." Xander said succinctly, considering the question, "So... which side do you take after?"

The growl that rumbled low in her throat was certainly not something your average human could manage. As the light of the sky faded away to the black of space, Xander just shrugged, "Guess that was a dumb question."

Janeway cast worried glances over at her Chief of Engineering, nothing the white knuckled grip the half-klingon had on the panel as she manipulated the controls. It was entirely possible, she decided, that this man *was* the original prototype for Thomas Eugene Paris... and that the gods had learned, by the time Tom was born, that perhaps toning him down just a tad would be a good plan.

Certainly it would extend his life expectancy around Klingons by a large degree.

Tuvok, Tom, Dylan, and Alex pulled up behind where Natalie was parked and quickly climbed out of their vehicles and approached the blond.

"Hey, where's your bedroom toy, Nat?" Dylan asked, grinning.

Natalie scowled, waving a hand in the general direction of the alleyway, "They said they were going to break into Chronowerks, so they went into the alley."

Dylan blinked, then looked over at the alley. "Uh... Natalie..."

"I know."

"The Alley is in the wrong direction..."

"I Know."

"Chronowerks is over there," Dylan went on, oblivious, pointing helpfully in the direction of the corporate headquarters building.

"I KNOW ALREADY!!" Natalie snapped.

"Whoa... sorry," Dylan held up her hands.

Silence fell for a moment as everyone, save Tuvok, squirmed a little uncomfortably in the aftermath of the blowup.

Finally, Dylan spoke up again, "So... uh... Why are you here and not with them?"

Natalie, Tom noted with admiration, had a growl that would do a Klingon proud.

"My my my," Henry Starling said, looking over the image standing before him. "A completely interactive holograph... If only I'd had you a month ago..."

"Pardon me," The Doctor interjected worriedly, "Where am I?"

"Oh, terribly sorry," the CEO of the large multinational firm smiled silkily, "You're in Chronowerks Corporate Headquarters..."

"And how, exactly, did I arrive here?"

"When your ship tried to steal my property I returned the favor," Starling smirked, "Now, if you'll be quiet for a while, I have work to do."


"Doctor, may I remind you that I control your entire Database at the moment?" The Billionaire asked without looking up from his work.

"Shuttlecraft docking."

"Ensign Kim," Chakotay said, checking the instruments for the eighth time, "You have the bridge. I'm going to brief the Captain."

"Aye Sir," Kim replied, "I have the Bridge."

Chakotay nodded, then rose from his chair and left the bridge.

"Shuttlebay One." He said as the lift doors closed, wondering at the situation they were in.

Time travel was bad enough, but dealing with future technology in the past was just mind boggling. This Starling seemed to have a grip on the technology he was using, which didn't bode well for Voyager and her crew. A five century advantage in technology was unimaginable, though some of the key technologies seemed to be the same.

That kind of bothered him, actually. Chakotay would have bet good money that transporter technology from the twenty-ninth century would not be compatible with Voyager's, and yet he seemed to able to interface with the transporter's carrier wave in ways that went beyond simple compatibility.

The large indian had ideas on that, however, and if he was right then perhaps they were in even bigger trouble than they believed.

Arriving at the shuttle bay stopped that train of thoughts, and Chakotay went through the door as the shuttle opened up at the back and three people emerged.

Janeway and Torres had grim looks on their faces, which Chakotay understood, but the third person had this kind of... casual smirk on his.

No, smirk was wrong. There was no sarcasm in it, just a perpetual kind of amusement that Chakotay felt wasn't directed at him, or anyone in particular, but the universe itself.

"Captain!" Chakotay nodded.

"Report Commander."

"Nothing new since my last report," Chakotay replied, "We're effecting repairs but we're missing a large portion of our database... we're currently restoring from the protected archives, but..."

Chakotay shrugged, and Janeway nodded grimly.

"Well," Xander Harris said, stepping up beside them, "At least now we know how Starling got a copy of your database in the previous timeline."

Chakotay spared a glance at the young man, then threw a questioning glance at Janeway. She shook her head, a gesture of her hand telling him to leave it be for now.

"The question is how he managed that," Janeway said aloud.

"It's a 29th century vessel," B'Elanna shrugged, "He's obviously got some very advanced technology."

"I think it's more than that, Captain," Chakotay said after a moment.

Chapter 10

Tuvok closed the connection with a tap of his fingers on the comm-badge hidden under his civilian jacket and would have frowned if he were prone to showing emotion. "It would appear that the Captain and Mr Harris are currently on Voyager."

"Just so I can be clear here," Dylan raised a hand, "Where precisely is 'Voyager'?"

"In Geo-Syncronous Orbit, approximately eighteen thousand miles above Los Angeles," Tuvok replied.

The Angels looked at each other and Alex shook her head in disgust, "When did our lives become a science fiction series?"

"I don't know," Dylan smirked, "personally I always thought we were the 'action comedy' types."

"Not Helping!" Natalie growled.

The Asian and Redheaded beauties exchanged worried glances, then looked over at Natalie.

"Hey, come on... He'll be fine. It's not like Xan can't take care of himself."

"That's not it!"

"Well what is it!?" Alex demanded, exasperated.

The three women glared at one another for a while, only to be interrupted by a dry tone from the tall black man.

"Perhaps now is not the time for personal arguments," Tuvok said calmly, ignoring the glares that were redirected in his direction, as well as the surreptitious sidestep Tom took away from him.

"I'm not with him." Tom said, pointing at Tuvok. "Never saw him before this morning."

Tuvok raised an eyebrow, sparing the blond man an irritated glance, then went on, "We should get Captain Braxton somewhere safe so we can talk to him."

The Angels glared for a while longer, then reluctantly nodded.

"Alright... but where?" Dylan asked, frowning.

Natalie sighed, "Xander keeps an apartment in LA now... I've got the key."

The two Angels looked at her, eyes wide.

"And just when were you planning on telling us about this!?"

"What do you mean, Chakotay?" Janeway asked, face etched with concern.

"Think about it Captain, there's something wrong here..." Chakotay replied, "How could a man from the twentieth century do what he has done with that technology? Turning it against us so effectively on short notice?"

"It does seem odd," Janeway conceded, "He didn't have any difficulty interfacing with our systems... Even through I would have sworn that using the transporter carrier wave as a signal base wasn't possible."

"I think you're overlooking something simple here," Xander spoke up.

"Speaking of twentieth century men..." B'Elanna muttered darkly.

Chakotay threw a surprised, and slightly concerned glance at the half-Klingon. How had the young man managed to tick B'Elanna off so quickly?

Xander, on the other hand, barely acknowledged the comment, "This Braxton identified himself as some kind of authority, correct? You mentioned something called the Temporal Prime Driective? That sounds like a law to me..."

Janeway nodded, "That's correct."

"Well that would make Braxton a lawman," Xander went on, "And one thing I know is that when you equip people to do a job, you make sure that they have what they need. Let's assume that his 'beat' is time, since he did have a time ship afterall..."

"I see what you're saying," Janeway cut in, "His equipment wouldn't be only four centuries more advanced than ours..."

"It would also be specifically selected and designed to overpower and circumvent our own systems," Chakotay finished grimly.

B'Elanna looked between the three of them, eyes narrowing, "So you're telling me that not only do we have a maniac with future technology, but it's specifically selected to be as effective as possible against our own systems?"

"Worse than that," Janeway shook her head, "He may even have our security pass codes, overrides, and all of our standard protocols. We may not be able to deal with him with any of our standard responses."

"Why does this keep happening to us, that's what I would like to know." B'Elanna asked, almost plaintively.

The Captain and the Commander just shrugged in varying degrees of misery of their own, but Xander grinned widely. "You too? Nice to know that I'm not the Universe's only whipping boy."

"Come on," Janeway sighed, "Let's get to the Bridge quickly and see what we can do."

"Drop him on the couch," Natalie ordered as Tuvok easily carried the unconscious figure of Captain Braxton into the 'apartment'.

The windows that lined the huge single room they'd entered slowly lightened from their black state, growing more transparent until the sunlight was pouring in from the entire wall of lightly tinted windows. The floor plan was large and clean, decorated by a sparse minimal of furniture, the colors were tan and white with a slightly oriental look mixed with something that none of them could quite place.

"Nice digs..." Dylan grinned, looking around as she nodded.

"Quite," Tuvok said, placing the man on the leather couch, eyeing the refreshing lack of clutter in the room with something akin to pleasure. It was rare that he saw a human dwelling that was free of the extraneous aspects most humans seemed to gather to them.

"Is it just me, or were those people in the lobby a little too understanding about us carrying an unconscious guy in here?" Tom asked, looking over his shoulder.

"Yeah, I got that too..." Alex agreed.

"Don't worry, those are all Xander's employees." Natalie replied, "This building belongs to him."

"The whole building!?" Dylan blinkded, "Damn! I knew he was loaded, but... Damn!"

"It's a business investment," Natalie said, "He's turning it into the headquarters for a Security Firm here in LA."

"He's horning in on our business!?" Dylan asked, outraged.

"Status report, Ensign!"

The crisp instant of command brought a mix of emotions to the bridge as it rang out. Tension, relief, and many things in between as the bridge crew saw their Captain stride into view.

"We've got main systems up and running again," Ensign Kim replied quickly, "Transporters are down, though... I'm not sure if I can get them working quickly."

"Understood. Activity from Chronowerks?"

"Nothing we can detect."

The exchange went on as Xander eyed the layout of the USS Voyager with a careful eye. It was much cleaner than any ship he'd been on previously. The Goa'uld starships were darker, more ominous, and held an alien atmosphere to them. The Yautja vessel had been even worse.

This, however, felt right. Like something humans would build, though perhaps not a human military. More like a cruise ship, he decided, or at least something with heavy civilian influences. Of course, the ship was designed as a long range fast recon vessel, so crews could conceivably be expected to remain on board for years at a time. Some comfort would make sense, he supposed.

A chirp from the young Asian man's station shook him from his reverie.

"What is it, Ensign?"

Kim, the Ensign, Xander supposed, frowned in confusion. "It's a communication Ma'am... from the planet."

Janeway glared at Xander, but he shrugged, "Not me or mine. They would contact me directly."

Janeway nodded, then looked forward. "Put it through."

The screen flickered and a face appeared on the screen, one that Xander recognized from the briefing Holo's he'd read up on, as well as some previous knowledge.

Henry Starling.

"Captain... Janeway, I presume." Starling said peering between the screen and his desk computer.

"Mr Starling," The Captain's voice could have cut steel, Xander decided as the tone lashed across the bridge.

"Not very polite of you," Starling went on, oblivious. "Dropping in unannounced like that... trying to steal my property."

"That ship doesn't belong to you."

"Salvage laws would say otherwise," Starling smirked, then became serious, "However it doesn't exactly belong to you either... You're only from the twenty *fourth* century, I see? Trying to get a little technical boost of your own, Captain?"

"Not everyone is interested in personal power, Mr Starling," Janeway replied, "My concern is simple to get my crew home and prevent any temporal paradox from disrupting my future."

"Of course it is," Starling replied patronizingly, smirking as he spoke. "However I'm afraid that I can't let you have that ship... I have plans for it, you see."

"Mr Starling... If you disrupt the future timeline you could destroy millions of lives..."

"Or save billions." Starling shrugged, "Not my concern either way."

Janeway glared openly at him, but Starling just waved her ire off.

"The future is an unwritten road to me, Captain... I intend to walk it my own way."

Starling's words sounded good to Xander, and he had to agree with the man as he said them. The only thing he had to wonder, was whether the man's own way was one that Xander himself could live with.

Somehow, Xander doubted it.

He just wasn't that lucky.

"You don't know what you're playing..."

Janeway's comments were cut off, however, by a hard voice from behind her.

"Mr Starling," Xander Harris growled, "Believe me when I say that I agree with the sentiment, however are you quite certain that you've considered all the implications of what you're saying?"

Henry Starling frowned, looking past Janeway to Xander, then at his computer as his hands flickered over the keyboard like lightning.

"Who are you? You're not listed as a crew member!" Starling said, then frowned, "Wait... Don't I know you?"

Chapter 11

Adam Braxton groaned as he woke up, pain flaring through his head and neck as he rolled slightly.

"Computer," He croaked out, "Analgesic, right hand."

Nothing happened for a long moment, and then Adam groaned again. <Oh God. I did it again.>

Even after thirty years, he couldn't break the habit of calling for the computer. Of expecting it to answer. Even spending fifteen years in a primitive psychiatric facility, with all their drugs and shock therapies hadn't broken him of that.

"Here you go."

The soft voice shocked him, widening his eyes quickly despite the sharp stabbing pain brought by the light. A pretty blond was holding out a pair of pills and a glass of water, a concerned expression on her face. He accepted the pills in his right hand, then the glass in his left as he struggled to get up. The blond helped him sit up as he took in the room.

It was a large room, high up in a tall building from the view out the windows. The furnishing was rich, but relatively spare, leaving a lot of open space.

"Thanks," he croaked out.

"It's not a problem, Captain Braxton."


Adam stiffened, his hand jumping so that some water spilled out over his hand and washed away some of the grime he'd accumulated from years on the streets of this primitive city. His eyes swept the room again, focusing on the faces he saw there this time, but he couldn't quite place them. It had been so long.

"Wh... who are you?" He croaked out again.

"Captain Braxton," A black man said stolidly, "I am Lieutenant Command Tuvok, of the USS Voyager."

"You!" Braxton jolted, climbing up the back of the black leather couch as the water glass fell to the floor.

"Please, Captain," The blond said, "I've been asked to look after you by my superior, in your condition it's not good to be getting excited."

"Condition!?" Braxton glared at her, "What do you know of my 'condition'!? You Voyager people are..."

"I'm not with Voyager, Captain," She said softly, "I was sent here to check your medical state."

Braxton eyed her wildly, head shaking, "When are you from?"

"I was born in the mid- 1970's, Captain," She told him without missing a beat. "Is that close enough, or do you need m-month and day?"

"Oh God!" Braxton shook all over, "Another primitive trying to diagnose me! What could you possibly know!?"

"I know that you're suffering from the misuse of several commercial pharmaceuticals intended to cure delusions. You're also suffering from malnutrition, several infections common in this century, and some of your implants seem to be malfunctioning... particularly the temporal stabilizer."

Braxton stared open mouthed at her, "W... who are you?"

"Oh!" The blond blinked in surprise, "I'm S-sorry... M-my name is Tara... Tara Maclay."

"Who are you!?"

Henry Starling's voice was demanding, his face intent, as he stared at Xander across the barrier of the viewscreen.

"Alexander Harrison," Xander told him simply, "Mr Starling."

Starling's eyes widened as he thumped back in his chair. "You! You snaked that holographic display contract out from under me last month!"

Xander smirked, "Guilty as charged."

"So now I see how you managed it," Starling muttered darkly.

"Oh, I'm afraid not," Xander replied, shrugging, "Voyager just arrived in orbit today. My people picked her up as she crossed the Jovian orbit. My own resources are from... a different area. I don't dabble in future technology as a rule, I've been burned by time travel in the past Mr Starling."

Starling reeled, his face dissolving in varying degrees of shock as he tried to process everything at once.

"Consider me a neutral party as of this moment, Mr Starling." Xander said, "Though I have to admit up front that I wasn't to start with."

"What are you talking about?" Starling managed to stammer out.

Xander half smiled, "Mr Starling, when Voyager first arrived and I learned the situation, I have to say that I agreed with Captain Janeway that the situation was far to dangerous to leave as it was. I still do, in fact. However, you are right. You, like myself, are not from the future. The future is unwritten to us, and we should not be bound in our actions by their idea of fate and destiny. I've already changed the future at least once, and I'm aware of a Government program which does so on a weekly basis using captured alien technology."

The eyes of the people around him were wide, and even Starling seemed struck dumb as Xander went on.

"However," He said seriously, "Neither I, nor the US Government, procured our methods of temporal tampering from the future. That makes your game a very dangerous on, Mr Starling. How much do you know about Paradox?"

Starling shook himself, then laughed derisively. "I've been studying it for thirty years, Harrison!"

"I have thirty thousand years of research on the matter, Mr Starling."

"That's not possible."

"It is, I promise you," Xander said firmly, "And the fact that you are using future technology makes your position, and mine, extremely precarious. Do you have Temporal Shielding?"

"O... only for the ship itself." Starling frowned, "What does that have to do with anything?"

"Because we have ourselves a paradox already in place, one that is feeding... or being fed by," Xander frowned in puzzlement, "one or more secondary paradoxes that you don't know about. It's a house of cards, Mr Starling. I'm at least partially immune to shifts in the time flow, my own people have temporal shielding to protect them if things go bad... But the world... the world does not. If you resolve the paradox, everything may change."

"Wait... wit... wait!" Starling held up a hand, "You're telling me NOT to resolve the Paradox??"

"Mr Harris!" Janeway blurted, eyes flashing, "What do you think you're doing!?"

"I'm trying to preserve my own timeline, Captain. One that you and your friend, Captain Braxton, have helped create I might add." Xander replied, "And, quite possibly, the same one that leads to your time... unless you have different information?"

Kathryn Janeway fell silent, uncertain how to respond to that. The fact was, she didn't know.

"I thought not." Xander replied grimly, "The fact is that right now, all we can do is try to keep everything from crashing down around our ears."

He turned to Starling on the screen and pointed at the man, "Your use of future technology has made any other option pointless. We're locked on a road now, thanks to all of you, and either we see it through or we roll the die and see if we turn up snake eyes."

"You really aren't with Voyager," Braxton said softly as the blond named Tara completed her exam.

"N...no." She said, shaking her head.

"That technology shouldn't exist here and now," He said, eyeing the device she was putting away. "I used to work the twentieth century beat. No one here has that technology."

Tara shrugged, "I guess that we conceal it well. You will require organ specific treatment, Captain Braxton. The drugs they gave you have damaged your liver, heart, and pancreas. I can purge your system, but I'm only a combat medic... not a doctor."

"You're a better doctor then I've seen in thirty years," Braxton said softly.

Tara actually blushed as she snapped her equipment case shut, "I-I'm afraid that there's nothing I can do about your implants. We don't have the tools to fix them at the moment, but they don't appear to be in life threatening condition."

"No," Braxton said, "They're designed to shut down if they are damaged to that degree."

"That's good."

"I guess." Braxton said, standing up. "What now?"

"I'd suggest a shower," A red head answered that question, her nose wrinkled up.

Another blond smiled, pointing. "It's that way. We prepared clothing in your size."

"Thank you..." Braxton replied in surprise.

"I still do not believe we have time for this." Lt Commander Tuvok said in his very Vulcan like way.

"Xander's talking with Starling now," the second blond replied quietly, "For now we wait. He has time to clean up."

"Starling!" Braxton's face twisted again, "That son of a...!"

"Later!" The redhead growled, "Clean the stink off you first!"

Chapter 12

"What are you proposing, Mr Harrison?" Henry Starling asked quietly, eyeing the uniforms that surrounded Xander's dark garbed exterior.

"First off, we need to figure out what we're going to do," Xander said firmly, his face grim. "To be frank, I'm particularly concerned about the fact that our data download indicates that you're repairing the time ship."

Starling's eyes narrowed at that, his gaze shifting automatically to the left.

"Mr Starling." Xander snapped, jerking the gaze of the man back to him, "Do not make me drop a commando unit on your rooftop."

"You wouldn't *dare*."

"Don't test me. I'm not from the future, so I don't have to worry about contaminating the timeline." Xander growled, "If I so choose, I can order an *airstrike* on your building, and the US Government wouldn't have the slightest clue what happened. Now, why are you repairing the timeship?"

Starling rubbed the side of his nose with his thumb, beads of sweat forming along his forehead as he tied to gauge the seriousness of the threat.

Finally, he let out a breath and glared, "I intend to take it back to it's source and acquire more technology. Think of it, Harrison, we could advance the world centuries!"

"I don't know about you, Mr Starling," Xander said, all calm outwardly, but his mind spinning inside, "but My own organization is currently holding technology *back* from the world because the social evolution of the planet would be seriously contaminated by advancing too fast."

"Oh don't give me that liberal bullshit, Harrison!" Starling growled, "You're making your money off advanced technology just as I am!"

"Yes, I am," Xander snapped in return, "but I'm staying just a few generations ahead of the curve..."

He paused, his eyes unfocusing for a split second as another voice sought his attention, then came instantly back. "You're doing the same thing, in fact. Why haven't you released replicator, or Phaser technology to the world, Mr Starling?"

Starling scowled, looking aside.

"Replicators would destroy the world economy overnight, right?" Xander challenged him, "They'd destroy even your company, wouldn't they?"

"You know they would."

"Same thing for phasers. Military defenses haven't reached the point where Phasers can be introduced without completely overpowering every military on the planet that doesn't have them," Xander went on, "which would destabilize the world society as it now stands. You're maintaining the status quo."

"And you aren't!?"

"Effectively? Sure." Xander shrugged, "Though I'm doing it because I'm unable to determine the outcome of introducing those technologies. New holographic displays aren't revolutionary, just evolutionary. Same for the weapons technology I market, it's just not safe to move that far ahead of the curve. So if you're already holding technology back, Mr Starling, why go to the future?"

Henry Starling, CEO of one of the worlds largest and most powerful corporations fell silent at that, his face darkening until he suddenly reached forward and slammed his fingers down on his keyboard, cutting the transmission.

The bridge of the USS Voyager was silent for a long moment, until Captain Kathryn Janeway spoke up in the midst of the quiet.

"He's curious," She said, her voice tinged with wonder.

"What?" Chakotay asked, frowning.

Xander just nodded, "Obsessed, I think. He wants to see where it all came from... He's probably built an image of paradise in his mind, a new Eden... a Utopia. Now he wants to see it for himself."

Ensign Harry Kim, who had been following the conversation with some difficulty, chose that moment to speak up. "Captain... Our readings of the Timeship indicate that it may have been more seriously damaged in our encounter than we thought. There are significant chronoton emissions, despite the fact that it's not fulled powered up. If he tries to take a damaged reactor to the 29th century..."

Janeway beat both Kim, and the whispered voice in Xander's ear, to the punch.

"My God," She said, "He'll blow his reactor... Remember what Braxton said??"

"He'll destroy the Sol system," Chakotay said in shock, "and us with it."

Xander twisted his lip, shaking his head, "And set off the entire Paradox in the process..."

He shook his head, trying to piece the entire situation together in his mind, "If we stop him though... The Paradox resolves itself. The timeship never comes back, and Chronowerks never comes into existence..."

Xander groaned, "Oh this is bad. This is SO bad."

"Time returns to it's normal flow," Janeway replied softly. "It's natural course."

"You think it's that simple!?" Xander snapped, turning on her, "You think it's that easy do you? Well, I'm sorry, but it's NOT!"

"Just because you don't like it doesn't..."

"You think this is about me!?" Xander yelled, "This isn't about me damn it! Last year we were attacked by an alien battlefleet that could NOT *possibly* know of our existence unless they had temporally shielded equipment. With the latest technology the Earth has, plus my own resources, we only *barely* fought them off! If Chronowerks is wiped from the timeline, none of us may have a future Captain."

Adam Braxton, formerly Captain of the United Federation of Planets Timeship Aeon, straightened his shirt as he ran a hand along the smoothly shaved skin of his cheek. His hair was still a bit of a mess, but he almost looked like a Starship Captain again.

Almost felt like one too.

The girl, Tara, had done him a lot of good in a very short time. He felt clearer than he'd felt since before the crash, before the disaster that destroyed...

He closed his eyes.

Destroyed almost everyone he knew, loved, and respected in one fell swoop.

Thirty billion people, all wiped out in an instant.

He leaned on the sink fixture, staring into the tired old eyes that looked back at him. He wasn't so far gone that he didn't know what was happening either. He'd qualified through temporal mechanics, top in his class, and could do basic four dimensional math in his head without reaching for a PADD.

He, The Aeon, and Voyager were now in the same place and time.

That meant that Voyager was within proximity of technology capable of sending her, or parts of her hull, hurtling into the future. He'd been part of the chain of events that led to the destruction of Sol System.

Oh, he wasn't the cause of it. There was no cause, per say, that was a fact of temporal mechanics. Some events have no cause, they only exist as an endless loop. But he WAS involved, and if he'd been smarter, more rational, a better officer... any of those things, all of them... then the cycle could have been short circuited.

But he hadn't. He'd failed in his duty, and was now party to the destruction of an entire solar system. THE solar system. The Center of the Federation, home to billions upon billions of souls, and the foundation of galactic society.

Braxton set his face, pushing himself off the sink and straightened the black shirt again before he turned to leave the bathroom.

Time to start acting like he was a Starfleet Captain by God.

"Merlin," Xander said softly, "Recall our people to Avalon. All of them."

"Aye Commander." Merlin responded instantly, "Do you believe the situation is beyond reclamation?"

"Unknown." Xander replied quietly as he watched the people work around the Bridge of the Starship. "But if we lose it, I want people ready to make sure we don't lose everything."

"Agreed. Commander..."


"Knight families?"

"Them too." Xander replied instantly, "I want a total recall, Merlin. Everyone is to be pulled back to Avalon. *Everyone*."

"Yes Commander."

"In the meantime, Have an Orca prepared and call for Volunteers. We may need to assault Chronowerks."

"Very well Commander. Volunteer personnel only."

Chapter 13

Alarms were ringing through the entire base as Buffy and Faith rushed through the halls from the training room they had been working out in, Merlin's voice calling out on all the base systems.

"All pilots, this is a scramble order," He said calmly, "This is not a drill. All pilots to your aircraft..."

"What's going on!?" Buffy asked as they ran, eyes wide as people ran past them in the other direction, a grim set to their faces.

"Don't know, Bee! Let's get to command so we can find out!"

Inside the command section of the island base, General William Grey glared at the threat board as he growled out commands.

"Show me all outposts with working temporal shielding!"

Lights lit up on the board, showing Avalon, Niume's outpost, and the Uluru base in green while several other points were lit in red or yellow.

"What's this?" Grey asked, pointing to a yellow point off the coast of Florida.

"Atlantis, General."

Grey paused for a moment, then shook his head and mumbled something under his breath. "Why are they in yellow?"

"The status of the city shielding is unknown, however it should not be a factor."

"Why's that?"

"The surviving Atlantians have had no contact with the outside world in the last thirty years, therefor they should not be affected by Resolution."

"Fine. Confirm the order to pull our people in Australia back to the Ayers facility," Grey ordered, "Who do we have in Europe??"

"Mr Giles returned home for a vacation, and it most likely visiting with his family."

"Right, contact him. He's in charge of the European evacuation."

Merlin merely nodded, "Niume is speaking with him now.

Grey was about to say something when two girls burst into the room with little to no decorum, eyes wild.

"What's going on, Merl!?"

Merlin spared the dark headed Slayer a dark look before answering.

"Bloody hell!!" Giles blew, eyes wide. "Are you serious!?"

"I assure you, Mr Giles, I am."

"Bloody Americans," Giles cursed under his breath, not sure which word was more obscene. "What people do we have in Europe?"

"We have several families in Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Israel..."

"Alright! Enough... Call them up. Tell them..." Giles shook his head, "Tell them something... I'll think of something. What transport assets do we have?"

"Two Orca transports."

"Bleeding hell. Hire private aircraft."

"Yes Mr Giles."

Giles shook his head, grabbing for his coat as he threw open the door to his room. "Evie! The Americans are trying to end the world!"

"What!?" The yell came back, "Again!??"

"Xander just ordered a recall of all Knights and their f-families..." Tara said softly as Captain Adam Braxton stepped back into the room. "Only volunteers are to be left outside of shielded areas."

"Shielded areas? What does that mean?" Tom Paris asked, confused.

"I-I'm not sure." Tara admitted, "But it's bad. They're talking about a Paradox and s-stuff..."

Captain Braxton let out a grim breath, "Temporal Paradox Resolution. Whoever this Xander is, he's trying to get his people into shielded areas before the matter with Starling, Voyager, and myself is resolved."

"Shielded from what? Time?"

"That would seem unlikely," Tuvok said calmly.

"Temporal shielding isn't that tricky, you just need to know how to do it." Braxton replied, "And I assume that whoever you people are, you do know, right Tara?"

Tara nodded.

"What happens if we're not in a shielded area?" Alex Munday spoke up, eyes narrowing even more than nature provided for her.

"Anyone not protected from the time shock will be rewritten," Braxton replied, "they'll be integrated naturally into the newly formed timeline."

Alex frowned, "And if they're shielded... what happens to the versions of themselves that should have existed?"

"Depends on the level of shielding," the former Starfleet Captain replied, "There are three possibilities with working shields. First, they exist separate of their shielded counterparts, effectively creating a Time Clone. Second, with better shielding, they never existed at all. At the moment of separation, the shielded person becomes the only version. With more advanced equipment, an integrated version of both is made."

"Fascinating." Tuvok replied, raising an eyebrow.

"Very, I'm sure," Braxton replied sarcastically, "But I'd like to point out that if the Starling Paradox isn't resolved correctly, our futures will be destroyed."

"What's 'correctly'!?" Tom asked, lifting his hands and shrugging. "I don't know about you guys, but I'm a pilot. That means I can do warp physics and vectors in my head without breaking a sweat, but time is a little out of my expertise."

"We need access to my ship," Braxton replied, "I have the appropriate equipment there to calculate the probabilities of a successful resolution."

"That may be difficult," Tuvok replied, "Voyager attempted to recover your Vessel, but Mr Starling was able to use it's defenses against us."

Braxton winced, "That's not good. It means he's puzzled out more of it's equipment than I'd have thought possible."

"Indeed," Tuvok replied, "According to his conversation with Captain Janeway and Mr Harris, he intends to take your ship into the future. Back to your time."

Braxton froze.

"No..." He shook his head, "He can't do that... He'll kill billions."

"That is our assumption as well."

"I need more information on Voyager and he crew," Henry Starling said grimly to the apparition that stood before him. "Information that you are going to provide."

"I will not." The Doctor replied flatly, "I am a Doctor, not a database."

Starling snorted, his eyes darkening as he retrieved a small tool from a nearby table. "You'll give me the information I want."

The Doctor matched the grim look with one of his own, "I'm afraid that you are mistaken."

"Oh no, Doctor," Starling replied grimly, "It's most definitely you who are mistaken. Your encryption makes removing the information very difficult, however I have located several of your sensory inputs... Tell me Doctor, does a holograph feel pain?"

The Doctor's eyes wavered uncertainly, but he remained silent.

Starling sighed, and pressed an intercom switch, "Mr Dunbar..."

"Yes Mr Starling?"

"I'm not to be disturbed for the next little while."

"Very well, Mr Starling."

"Oh, and Mr Dunbar? Ms Robinson appears to have outlived her usefulness to us. She knows a little too much."

"I'll handle it, Sir."

"Thank you."

Starling smiled as he took his thumb off the switch and turned his attention back to the holographic doctor. "Now, my good Doctor... let's see what kind of a database you really are."

Chapter 14

"Mr Harris, I think it's time we had a talk."

Xander looked up at the Captain as she gazed evenly back at him along the stretch of the conference table that separated them. She had called in her senior staff, barring the black alien and pilot who were both still planet side. The young asian man, Harry Kim, looked somewhat ill at ease, as if he were still getting used to his position, if he ever was going to. The beautiful half human, Torres he recalled, was looking satisfied with herself, which Xander supposed didn't bode well for him given the nature of their discussion.

The other man was the large native american, unless Xander was seriously mistaken. Chakotay, the name seemed to bear out his belief, had an interesting bit of tattoo art on his face. Interesting, especially, since Xander knew that it wasn't native to any earth culture.

It was an interesting crew, he decided. Certainly human centered, but there didn't appear to be any friction toward aliens and nonhumans. Xander had recognized at least one known demonic species during their tour through the halls of the ship, a non-violent species as a rule, which boded well for the future in his opinion.

Still, there was the matter at hand.

"Mr Harris!"

The Captain's voice was sharp, filled with command, but he'd seen it coming long before she'd vocalized it. Janeway, for all her attributes, telegraphed her emotions and intentions from miles off. She wouldn't make much of a poker player, he decided after a moment.

"Yes, Captain?" He spoke softly, mildly, his voice holding a hint of tolerant humor in it.

The humor, he decided, was what drew the low growl from Torres. There was a woman who could scare a man in a dark alley, Xander noted wryly. Though, if he weren't currently involved with someone else, he'd take his chances in that alley.

"Would you care to explain yourself, Mr Harris?" Janeway asked tensely, "I've checked my database. There is no Xander Harris listed in it. Not for this time, at your general age."

Xander smirked, "I'd be surprised if there was, actually."

"There is, however, an Alexander Harrison..." She went on, holding up a slim electronic display. "CEO of Renaissance Technologies, also the major stockholder... seventy five percent. Capital worth is four point eight billion dollars, though almost all of it is tied up in non-moveable assets. You're an arms dealer, a peddler in technologies that were noted as 'revolutionary' for their time, and were... Sorry, will be, investigated a total of twenty eight times by the Government. No charges ever laid."

"Well, it's nice to know my future is clean," Xander replied with a smile. "And I have to complement you on your database. It's... very complete."

"Starfleet ships are equipped with fractal image cores that detail every conceivable research requirement." She replied, "Including historical databases."

"Impressive," Xander replied, "Though security on that has got to be a pain."

"The encryption on our secure databases is more then sufficient," Janeway replied, "now why did you lie to us?"

"I didn't. Your database did." Xander smiled.

"Like hell!"


Chakotay and B'Elanna's snapping echoed through the room, causing Janeway to wait a moment before speaking.

"Would you care to explain that?"

"Alexander Harrison doesn't exist." Xander replied lightly, "I made him up. Nice guy and all that, but a bit of a stick in the mud."

Torres snorted, drawing another irate glare from her commanding officer. Janeway ignored them, raising an eyebrow in Xander's direction. He finally sighed and shook his head, "Normally I wouldn't tell you this, but given the situation, I don't really think that you're in a position to use it against me. Alexander Harris."

Janeway blinked, looking down at her PADD, then tapped a few symbols on it.

"You're *seventeen*!?"

"Ms Summers, you have a flight to catch."

"Excuse me?" Buffy asked, looking confused.

"We have orders to recall all Knight personnel and their families to Avalon or other protected areas... Your family presents us with a problem," General William Grey told her, "Specifically your mother."

"What about mom!?"

"She doesn't know about us, and we don't have time to properly brief her." Grey replied, "So the only way to get her to safety is to send someone she knows and trusts."

"Me." Buffy grimaced, "Are you *sure* this is really necessary??"

"It's not a clear cut case, Ms Summers." Grey replied, "She's in no physical danger by remaining outside... but if you are here, and she isn't... then in the worst case, she'll change and you won't."

"I... I don't understand..."

"She'll be different if the timeline changes, Ms Summers," The Marine General said in a gruff, but surprisingly gentle voice. "Maybe she won't even be living in Sunnydale... maybe she won't even be living. We don't know."

Buffy's eyes widened.

"The point is that we need our people to remain unchanged, so they can protect the planet..." Grey told her, "So the least we can do is protect their family."

"But... I... I'm not really part of your people..." Buffy said softly, "I'm just here because Xander invited me for a break..."

The holographic image of Merlin appeared then, "We are aware that you are not part of the Knigthhood, Ms Summers. However, you are the Commander's family. You, your mother, and sister, are all listed as his closest family."

"I... Don't understand."

"We don't have time for this," Grey growled, his patience fading. "This paradox is on track to be resolved... we need everyone protected before that can happen."

Buffy blinked, then nodded. "Right... mom... Dawn. Ok..."

"Flight Deck Eighteen. Go."

Buffy went.

Former US President Thomas Whitmore picked up the phone on the third ring, sighing in annoyance as he was forced to get up and move on one of the few days he had off from his work for the secretary of the navy.


He smiled, "William! How are... What?"

His family looked over as the smile vanished from his face. "Are you sure? That's crazy! No... No, I suppose not... I understand. Yes, we'll be ready. Bill... thanks."

Whitmore hung up the phone, frowning to himself as he stared at it for a long moment.

"Honey? What is it?"

"Pack some bags..." He said, not looking up from the phone. "We're going on a little trip."


Murphy McManus looked up as the shift supervisor appeared, waving a hand, "Phone call!"

"I'll get it, bro," Murphy told his brother, slapping his twin on the shoulder as he set down the slab of beef he was trimming.

"You do that, Murph," Connor replied, half smiling.

Murphy walked across the floor and picked up the phone receiver a moment later. "You're talkin to Murph... Sis? What's wrong? Now ye slow down, Sis! Talk slower..."

"Here," Paige Mathews said quietly as he fitted the fold-com to her jaw, expecting to hear Xander's voice on the other side, or maybe Faith's.

What she got instead was Merlin, speaking very darkly, sending a chill down her spine.

"What? Are you kidding!?"

She blinked, shaking her head, "Sorry... No, of course you aren't. You do know that this is crazy, right? Yeah... I guess I am telling the wrong person. Alright, I'll be ready."

Across the world, similar calls were being taken, and similar reactions were heard. Even under a mountain in the heart of Colorado.

"Are you *kidding* me!?"

"Calm down, Jack..."

"Don't tell me to calm down, Daniel! When i get my hands on him I'm going to strangle him slowly..."

"Who?" Daniel asked, amused, "Harris?"

"Maybourne! You know he's got something to do with that NID connection to Starling!" Jack O'Neill snarled, "I'm just going to *shoot* Harris."

Daniel blinked.

"Oh relax, you know as well as I do that he wears bullet proof vests."

Chapter 15

The gloss black hummer glided to a stop just outside the central offices of the Chronowerks Corporation, running silently on it's hybrid electric motors as the four people inside checked their gear one last time of reflex.

"We're here," Miko Lung, Field Commander of the Los Angeles office of Good Knight Security Services Inc said, glancing out at the corporate headquarters building across the street.

The three men with her were fresh recruits, only newly graduated from the basic orientation provided by the Knighthood for people employed in their off-Island interests. Trevor Lockley, formerly of the LAPD, was sitting beside her, driving the Hummer. He'd been discharged from the LAPD on a Psyche card, just three years before full retirement when he'd found out a little more than he'd wanted to know about what happened at night.

The Knighthood had hired him as a security consultant when Good Knight Security opened their doors in LA, and so far Miko didn't have any complaints about the man other than his occasionally rude tones. He brought with him many current contacts on the police force, including his daughter, a Kate Lockley.

Behind them sat one Charles Gunn and his Sister, Alohnna, both experienced demon fighters in their own right, and former associates of some kind of the Commander's. Miko didn't know them too well, since they'd only just been assigned to her squad. Lung was the only Cadre member assigned to Los Angeles on a full time basis, and until now it had been a pretty nice assignment.

Things with Chornowerks, however, stood to make things very uncomfortable.

"So what are we looking for, anyway?" Charles Gunn asked, peering out the side window as he cradled his P90 in the crook of his arm.

"Anything unusual, this is a priority observation," She replied, her eyes centered on the front of the building, "There are people inside with highly dangerous technologies that could threaten our operations."

"Not demons?"

"Not that I'm aware of." Miko replied.

"Man, I don't get why we're getting involved then." Gunn griped, "It's the blood suckers that are the threat."

"If intel is right, what these people are playing with could wipe out everything we know." Miko replied cooly.

"Let's just do what we said we'd do, Charles," Alohnna said soothingly. "If it's that dangerous, we can get the vampires later."

"Yeah, right."

Trevor Lockley listened to the conversation without speaking, his eyes on the doors as a man stepped out. "Isn't that the big guy's right hand?"

Miko looked over as Mr Micheal Dunbar lowly guided his black company sedan out of the underground parking, and eased it into the street. She flicked her eyes into the spiritual realm and examined the man's aura from a distance, even as the Hummer's security sensors gave the car a quick scan.

"Greasy little bastard," Was Miko's assessment of the man.

"He's packing something with a high energy reading," Alhonna said from behind them, "It doesn't match anything we've got in our computer."

"Send it to headquarters." Miko ordered as she touched her Fold Comm. "Subject Dunbar is leaving the premises. Scanners indicate potential weapons on his person, and an aura scan shows probably evil intent."

Trevor Lockley raised an eyebrow as he looked over at the small woman seated next to him, filing that little comment away for future investigation. The people he'd hooked up with seemed to have the right ideas, but they had some freaky methods too.

"Roger. Move second team to fill the hole, we're moving out." Miko replied, then nodded to Trevor. "Follow him."

"You got it."

"Mr Harris, you've got a lot of explaining to do."

"No, Captain, I don't," Xander replied evenly. "The fact remains that I'm from this time, and you aren't. Simply because you haven't been able to locate records that fully explain my abilities is irrelevant. Your own records indicate that I belong here."

Janeway looked like she'd just bitten down into something decidedly unpalatable, but had no immediate response to that.

"Furthermore, the fact that your records reflect what I would want them to reflect would seem to indicate that my operations were successful, from your time's point of view," Xander went on, "And since they resulted in your future... I think it's in your best interests *not* to look too closely."

"Oh what a load of Targ crap!" B'Elanna growled out, slamming a hand down. "I've had about enough of this..."

"B'Elanna!" Chakotay snapped, eyes wide as he glared at his protege. Torres hadn't been this bad in years, literally. Something about this Harris, or Harrison, or whatever, was really pushing all her buttons.

The half Klingon settled down, looking rebellious but holding her toungue, while Xander merely smiled.

"I believe that we can agree that we need to prevent Mr Starling's travel plans," he said lightly, then turned serious, "however, his dabbling with future technology had drawn us into a paradox that doesn't have any easy solution, however. If this world experiences a thirty year rollback, we could very well be condemning our entire future... yours, mine, and everything between and after, to extinction."

"What you're saying is that we have to sacrifice thirty billion people in the future," Janeway said grimly.

"Not exactly a palatable option, is it?" Xander asked grimly. "I'm afraid it's going to depend on how much time we have. Merlin is already crunching numbers, trying to navigate a path out of this time storm... but we're not talking about formulas as simple as... oh, Warp Theory, for example. Even for Merlin, this is going to take time."

"Great," Chakotay replied, "What do we do in the meantime."

"I've already begun deploying fighters in a Combat Space Patrol over Los Angeles," Xander replied, "I'd suggest that Voyager continue repairs and stand ready to intercept him if he gets the time ship off the ground. Between us, we might be able to take him down."

"What about the timeline?" Janeway asked.

"Captain, leave that to the professionals," He told her flatly.

Janeway stiffened, eyes flaring, even as Torres snorted.

"I intend to," Was all Xander said in response to their reactions.

"We need the equipment on the Aeon," Braxton sighed, shaking his head as he tried, unsuccessfully, to use the computer systems available in the penthouse apartment.

Not that the computers weren't advanced, he noted. They were generations beyond anything that should exist in this century. They just weren't geared toward the almost infinite level of computation required to successfully navigate a timestream to it's almost limitless myriad of potential outcomes.

"Perhaps I can provide the neccessary tools," A voice spoke up, startling Braxton into turning around.

An image of an old man hovered in the center of the room, eyeing him with equanimity.

"A holograph?" Braxton blinked, "They didn't have anything that sophisticated..."

He caught himself, shaking his head, "But apparently you do. Who are you?"


Braxton frowned, "Merlin... I know a Merlin... He's a genius on temporal calculations, helped found half the Time Fleet, and was responsible for writing the temporal prime directive."

Merlin smiled, "I know."

Braxton's eyes widened, "Oh hell no..."

Chapter 16

Buffy Summers fidgeted in the seat of the Orca transport, her nervous energy burning stronger and stronger as she, and the Orca, got closer to Sunnydale. How could she tell her mom, of all people, what was going on? That the only safe place was on a mythical island straight out of Arthurian legend?

Oh God! She was going to have to tell her mother that she was the Slayer!

It wasn't fair!

"It's not fair!" She moaned.

"What's wrong, B?" Faith asked, looking up from a crystal display she was reading.

"I've got to tell my mom that I'm the Slayer!"

Faith nodded, "Yeah, that's tough. My dad wanted to shackle me to my bed and leave me there t'ill I was like eighty or something."

"You told your parents?" Buffy asked, wide eyed. She hadn't know that Faith HAD parents.

Faith shrugged, "Well, Xan helped."

Buffy snorted, "I'll bet that really helped."

The dark haired Slayer smirked, "Sure it did. My dad decked him and it was like, instant distraction from me."

Buffy snickered, "You're kidding?"

"Nope." Faith smirked, then shrugged, "But then we all went on a mission together, and we got shit settled between us."

Buffy's jaw dropped, "You took your parents on a mission?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah," Faith nodded, "Dad's ex-military special forces and Mom scares HIM... Once they got over the 'protect me from a stiff breeze' crap, we got along fine. Merl's got an Orca picking them up too, y'know, if you want to meet em..."

"Yeah... I guess I'd like that," Buffy nodded.

"Cool." Faith shrugged, turning her attention back to the display.

Buffy nodded, then settled down a little, but quickly found herself getting nervous again as she felt Sunnydale approaching in the distance.

"Hey, B."


"Your Mom is cool. She'll deal."

Buffy nodded slowly, "Thanks, Faith."

"No prob."

Raine Robinson sighed as she picked up the box that held off of her personal belongings from work, trying to figure out again what she had done to get fired. She'd been assigned to watch the skies for a peculiar signal frequency, one that *never* showed up on any instruments. Except that it did show up, but by the time she reported it in, her funding was cut and her project disbanded.

There was something weird going on, it didn't take an astrophysicist to figure that much out, but apparently figuring out *what* was going on was just a little bit beyond your average astrophysicist's abilities to figure out.

She was still feeling sorry for herself as she headed toward her beat up VW van when a voice surprised her.

"Ms Robinson?"

She turned, recognizing the figure. "Mr Dunbar! Uh... Hi, I mean... well... Hi."

Oh god, she groaned. That was lame. But this guy might be able to help her get her funding back, she had to take a shot.

Before she could say anything more, though, he slid something from under his jacket and spoke again. "I'm terribly sorry, Ms Robinson."

Sorry? Sorry for what?

She stared, puzzled, as she lifted the thing that looked like a funny shaped flashlight, and pointed it at her.

Miko watched as Dunbar loitered around the exterior of the building their files had identified as an local SETI office that was funded primarily by Chronowerks. They couldn't do anything against him yet, especially since they didn't have any solid identification on the object he was carrying, just that it was probably a weapon judging by it's power signature.

She could have hoped for a better and more solid bit of evidence to go on, but it appeared that she wasn't going to get it.

Dunbar's eyes were drawn to a woman approaching his position, and Miko saw his hand dip under his coat.

"He's going for a gun," Lockley spoke up instantly, every cop instinct the man had screaming.

"Right, Move." Miko ordered, popping her own door and instantly sliding out of the Hummer.

Lockely pushed open his own door as Gunn and Alhonna moved just a few steps behind them, but Miko didn't wait. She easily hopped from the sidewalk to the roof of the Hummer in a single smooth motion, then paused to assess the situation.

Dunbar withdrew the weapon from his jacket, and for a split second she was confused. It wasn't a gun, but of course shed known that. It was clear not human technology, not current human at least. But it was a weapon.

She sprinted three strides along the wide roof of the armored Hummer, then kicked off the edge and soared across the street, over the tops of cars and people with a graceful glide.



"Girl's got moves."

Raine's eyes widened as something screamed in the back of her head, warning her of danger. She didn't understand from where, but something about Dunbar's body language screamed at her. She couldn't see a threat in the flashlight he was wielding, though, so it just seemed stupid.

His eyes shifted as he steadied the flashlight, and she felt an urge to scream, but didn't. Then he thumb came down on the flashlight, and it was too late to do anything.

A flash of light almost blinded her as a blur of motion landed between them and Raine saw something that shouldn't have been possible.

Several somethings actually.

First, a visible beam of coherent energy erupted from the 'flashlight', and Raine's mind automatically filled in the word 'laser', though no laser was anywhere near powerful enough to make the air it passed through fluoresce like that.

Second, the blur resolved itself into the figure of a small chinese woman with long silky black hair, and Raine couldn't figure out where the hell she'd come from.

Third was the fact that the chinese woman intercepted the beam on one of her hands, and instead of stopping it or being burned, the beam reflected off to her other hand, then straight up into the sky. Raine stared in shock, trying to understand what the hell was going on, but everything just went by too fast.

Apparently Mr Dunbar wasn't in any better position, either. He stared, his 'laser' still firing for long seconds, until his thumb came off it reflexively and his jaw dropped open.


Raine and Dunbar jerked their heads to one side to see uniformed men and a woman running in their direction, pistols out and aimed at Dunbar, who instantly turned his weapon in their direction.

The chinese woman was on him in a second, the laser clattering to the ground as she put him down in an instant, twisting his limbs painfully in a series of positions that locked his limbs in place.

"Are you alright?"

Raine turned, still in shock, and nodded to the young black woman who was settling her pistol down into a holster on her hip. "Uh... yes... I think so..."

"We're with Good Knight Security," She was told then, "We've been observing Mr Dunbar as a possible terrorist threat."


Raine's mind spun. What was she involved in.

"Would you mind coming with us and filling out a report?" The woman asked gently.

Raine nodded, then shook her head, then just looked confused. "Ok."

"Gunn, take her stuff."

A young black man relieved her of the box she'd been carrying as the chinese woman and the other man finished cuffing Dunbar and hauling him to his feet.

"I've got him Trevor," The Chinese woman said brusquely, "Get his gun."

Gun!? He didn't have a Gun...

Yet, as she turned to look at the fallen laser device, Raine Robinson's eyes widened to see a gleaming pistol laying in it's place instean.

Oh God, she moaned internally. I've completely lost it.

On the Starship Voyager, left alone in the conference room while the Captain and her Crew held a private discussion that no doubt concerned him greatly, Xander listened with satisfaction to the reports from below.

Merlin and Braxton were now working together on navigating through the Temporal Storm they were caught in, and Miko and her team had just apprehended one of the Starling's men in the process of committing a crime. That would let them cover their bases, legally and morally, though they'd have to fudge some of the evidence for the legal side.

Things were running smoothly, in other words, even in his absence.


Now he had to do his part.

"Computer," He spoke up softly.

There was no response, but he knew that word had activated hidden processes and it was waiting now for a valid command.

The question was, did he have a valid command to give?

"Recognize, Harris, Alexander, L." He said, in the format he'd heard the Captain say when she was retrieving classified data.

There was a brief pause, then the computer came back, "Harris, Alexander L, Admiral Starfleet Special Operations recognized."

Chapter 17

Joyce Summers looked up in surprise when the door to her shop flung open and her eldest ran in. "Buffy? I thought you were at camp!?"

"Mom, you have to listen to me, it's really important..." Buffy said, sounding almost out of breath. "We've got to go, something bad is happening."

Joyce rose up, eyes widening, "What? Is it Dawn? Is Dawn ok!?"

"Dawn's fine, Mom," Buffy said, "I... look, this will work a lot better if you let me explain later, ok? I just don't know how to do it right now."

"Buffy, I can't just close the gallery..."

"Mom, trust me, you CAN." Buffy said earnestly.

"Now see here, young lady..." Joyce began, until a man dressed in military style clothing pushed open the door, a large rifle slung on his shoulder. She trailed off, staring at him, "Who are you?"

"Hicks, Ma'am," He replied, "We've got a major situation, Ms Summers, could you and your mother hurry up?"

Joyce stared, wide eyed, as the military man nodded politely, then stepped back outside. Slowly she turned back to Buffy, "What is going on?"

"It's a long story, Mom." Buffy sighed, "And it'll work better if you come with me now and I explain later... We've got to get Dawn before everything goes to hell."

Joyce stared at her daughter for a long moment, then stepped out from behind the counter and walked over to the door, flipping the sign over to 'closed'.

"You have some explaining to do, young lady."

Buffy nodded miserably, "I know."

"Oh wow..." Willow breathed as she opened the door and was greeted by a tough looking woman in military BDUs.

"Ms Rosenberg?"

"Yes..." Willow nodded slowly.

"Merlin sent us, did he contact you?"

Willow nodded again.

"Get your family," The hispanic woman said, "We don't have much time."

"Mom's gonna love this..." Willow managed to get out before Sheila Rosenberg appeared behind her in the hallway.

"Willow? Who's at the... door?"

"Mrs Rosenberg, Ma'am," The woman semi-saluted, "The name's Vasquez, I work with Good Knight Security and I've been directed to inform you that families of our employees are being evacuated due to terrorist threat."

Willow's jaw dropped as her Mother's eyes just went incredibly wide.

"Wh... wh... bu... we don't work for any security company..." Sheila managed to stammer out.

"Your daughter does, Ma'am," Vasquez replied, "She's been doing computer work for us over the summer."

Sheila Rosenberg turned to her daughter, who was actually looking about as flabbergasted as herself, "Willow?"

Willow shrugged miserably, "I've been doing a lot of computer consulting, Mom..."

"Hey, now," Ira Rosenberg said, stepping into the hallway, "What is going on here?"

"This woman says that there is a terrorist threat..."

"Here? In Sunnydale?" Ira shook his head, "Preposterous."

"Sir," Vasquez said, keeping her cool while mentally cursing, "This is a precautionary measure we extend to our employees and their families."

"Employees?? We don't..."

"Willow, Dear," Sheila said, still sounding a little shocked. "She's been consulting on computers."

"Oh..." Ira looked stumped for a moment, looking over at his daughter, "You have been charging fair market value, I hope..."

"Yes Dad..." Willow rolled her eyes.

"Ah, well good." Ira nodded, turning back to Vasquez, "I'm sure that this seems all very important to you, but we're not going anywhere..."

"Sir, how about you come to the evacuation point and talk to my superior," Vasquez replied, "From there it's up to you."

Ira Rosenberg gave her a look of distaste, but finally nodded, "Fine then. Sheila, could you get my jacket please? We'll go talk some sense into these people..."

"Mom, just listen, ok?"

"Jessie, I don't know what this game is, but I have a busy day..."

"Xander says it's important, Mom... and you know he doesn't joke around..."

Alice McNally paused at that. There was a time when she would have retorted that joking around was ALL that Xander did do, but that time was past. Xander was changed since he'd disappeared two years earlier, and he didn't joke much about serious things anymore.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the door.

"We'll deal with this later," She told Jessie sternly, walking over to the door.

"Miss McNally?" A tall, vaguely scary looking man asked grimly.

"Ah... Y... yes..." She swallowed, looking up at the hard muscled, and actually scarred man at her door.

"Name's Drake," He said gruffly, "I'm with Good Knight Security, Mr Harris sent me over to transport you to the evac point."

She tore her eyes away from the imposing figure of a man, her eyes reaching past him to the black Hummer parked on the curb.

"I told you Xander was serious, Mom."

Alive McNally numbly let her son guide her out the door was the man named Drake picked up the bags Jessie had brought to the door.

Dawn Summer threw open the door before the man on the other side could ring it, yelling "I'm ready!" as she bolted past him with her small bag over her shoulder, "Some of mom and buffy's stuff is by the door!"

Gunny Apone twisted to look at the girl who had bolted past him, then back to the two bags sitting there by the door, confused for a moment.

The girl was already in the Hummer when he glanced back, looking at him with an irritated look on her face.

"Well!?" She yelled, "You think maybe we should get a move on before the world goes 'pop'!?"

He just grinned wide then, shaking his head, and chuckled slowly as he plucked them up and walked back toward his Hummer. The Commander had some interesting family, he decided then.

"Since you've figured this much out," A familiar voice startled Xander into turning and seeing an image of himself on the viewscreen.

It was an older version, true, though not by a lot. More experienced, Xander decided. Something in the eyes, not the face. He was wearing a red starfleet uniform, not the standard issue Knighthood, with collar decorations that Xander hadn't seen so far on Voyager.

"... Things must have happened as I remember them," The alternate version of himself said, "But don't take that as proof of victory, Xander... Time's jumpy when you start dealing with second to second stuff. In the long term, things will almost always even out, but that won't matter to you if you get too cocky and some random bad guy guns you down..."

The figure on the screen winced, then shook it off, "You are currently caught in a Category Three temporal storm. That means that personal destiny is right out the window, and everything you know is up for grabs... It gets worse, though. It could easily become a Cat 5 or higher if you let Starling resolve the paradox before you're ready to even it out."

<Tell me something I don't know,> Xander thought sourly.

The figure smiled, "You want something you don't know? Starling will be ready to launch in less than an hour."

Xander's jaw dropped.

"I knew that would get ya," He saw himself smirk, and Xander felt his hackles rising. "You can trust Janeway and her Crew, they really are just trying to set things right... but don't forget, they aren't sure what *right* is... If you need to help them out with that, you can use my computer access to nudge them along.... I'll deal with the implications on this side."

Xander nodded slowly, still staggered by the fact that he was looking at himself from the future.

Then his future self seemed to look over his shoulder, toward the door behind Xander.

"Whoops... here they come."

Xander turned around involuntarily as he heard his voice go on.

"Gotta go... just remember, Me, tick tock... tick tock."

The door opened, admitted Janeway and the other members of the senior staff who were on Voyager, just as Xander snapped his head back to look at a dark screen.

"Shit." He muttered.

"Pardon me?" Janeway asked, but he barely heard him.

"God, I'm an asshole." Xander muttered darkly.

B'Elanna Torres snorted loudly behind him, muttering something that earned her a kick to the shins from Harry Kim.

"Excuse me??" Janeway asked again.

"Nothing, Captain." Xander sighed, standing up. "It's time. I have to get back planetside."

"What are you talking about?" Chakotay asked in confusion.

"Starling's almost ready to launch." Xander replied.

"Just how would you know that?" Torres asked challengingly.

Xander just shook his head, "I really hate time travel."

Chapter 18

Joyce Summers looked around, eyes wide as she watched the procession of Hummers roll up to the white mansion she knew to belong to Xander Harris. She'd known that the young man was wealthy, but this was a bit more than she'd quite contemplated. This wasn't just money, it was people, an infrastructure that belied the indulgent youth she'd read him as.

"Alice? Did they drag you out here too?"

Joyce half turned to see a woman, Sheila Rosenberg she thought, greet another one just behind her.

The woman, Alice McNally Joyce remembered, nodded, "Jessie said that young Alexander set this up, and that it was serious."

"I'll certainly say it is, dragging us out of our homes like this... The young man may have money, but he has a lot to learn about decorum..."

Joyce didn't recognize that speaker, but she knew Cordelia Chase when you girl spoke up.

"Daddy, just... please, stop."

"Yeah," Jonathon Levinson spoke up, half shepherding his parents into the group while looking over his shoulder at an older Oriental man and what appeared to be his daughter. "If Xan wants us here, it's a big deal."


They quieted down, looking toward the speaker, and several of the people present gasped at the uniform and weapons he bore.

"My name is Gunnery Sergeant Apone," The black man said clearly over the murmur, "Former United States Marine, and current Operator for Good Knight Security. For your safety, you've been asked to come here because there is a situation that could turn very ugly in short order..."

"What are you talking about, Sir," Mr Chase asked stiffly as he stepped forward, "Sunnydale is perfectly safe..."

Several people laughed as that was said, irritating Mr Chase to no end as he glared around at them.

"Sir..." Apone frowned, looking down at a computerized display he carried, "Are you David Chase?"

"That's correct..."

The black soldier hummed slightly, "And your wife is Marianne Chase?"

"What is it to you??"

Apone frowned again, looking around, "Is Cordelia Chase here?"

"That's Me..."

"Ah, good..." Apone nodded, speaking to her and ignoring her father, "I'm afraid that we have your parents listed as security risks..."

"I say!" Mr Chase growled, "Are you insane!? You can't ignore me while saying things like that!!"

Cordy sighed, nodding.

"Try to keep them out of trouble, will you?" Apone asked, shaking his head. "Things are touch and go right now..."

David Chase practically vibrated with his indignant fury, but Apone stilled another further outbursts with a glare. "Corporal Hicks!"


"Are all the Sunnydale people accounted for?"

"Yes Sir!"

"Outstanding," Apone replied, nodding over their shoulder, "Now, if you people will turn around, you will see the transport we've arranged."

One by one, and in small groups, the people turned around to look at the empty grounds behind them.

Empy, that is, until one by one four floating craft shimmered into being about fifty feet above the ground, and slowly lowered down to the grounds.

"Let's load up!"

Joyce stared in shock, the felt her daughter's tugging her forward.

"Come on, Mom... We've got to get on one of the Orcas," Buffy told her.

"Yeah," Dawn was grinning, "I've been itching to get a ride on these for months now!"

Oh yes, Joyce breathed, there were big explanations in the near future. Very Big ones.

"Merlin, who's available in LA?" Xander asked quickly as he strode down the hallways of the Starship Voyager.

"Miko Lung is the only Cadre member in Los Angeles," Merlin replied instantly, "But the Good Knight staff is still at thirty percent."

"I'll need volunteers from the combat line people," Xander went on, "people willing to take their chances outside the shelters."

"Already have them, including Gunnery Sergeant Apone and his team in Sunnydale. They're loading up the evacuees now, and can be in Los Angeles in twenty minutes."

"I'll take em." Xander replied, a fierce grin on his face. "Evacuation status?"

"Proceeding nominally, the first people will arrive on Avalon within the hour."

Xander shook his head, "How long before it's complete?"

"At current rates? Four hours, forty eight minutes."

Xander cursed softly, drawing looks from the Starfleet people around him. "Thank you, Merlin. How's the navigation coming?"

"Captain Braxton is a singular mind, Commander. He's helped me eliminate several dead end paths already, we've narrowed our options to five separate paths." Merlin said, "Narrowing it further will take time, however."

"Time, time, time," Xander muttered the words as if they were the vilest oaths in the english language, "We're running out of time, Merlin."

"Understood Commander."

"Harris out," Xander muttered, shaking his head.

"Trouble, Mr Harris?" Janeway asked archly.

"More of the same, Captain," Xander said grimly, "If we don't delay Starling, most of my people will be caught out in the cold when this goes down. That would be very bad, in case you were wondering."

"Mr Harris, resetting the timeline along it's proper path..." Janeway began, but Xander cut her off.

"You just aren't thinking it through, Captain," Xander ground out. "I have temporally shielded equipment. So do some of the Earth's enemies... factor that into your calculations... There is no way in HELL that we're going to get ourselves back onto an untampered timeline now. It's not possible."

Janeway fell silent, her face grim. He was right, of course, which grated on her badly. The existence of temporal shielding threw every calculation of temporal events completely out of kilter. Frankly, she wouldn't have believed that it was even possible, except that her people on the surface confirmed that Braxton had stated they existed.

If such shielding existed anywhere, than they would preclude the possibility of ever achieving an unpolluted timeline once changes had been made. That meant that almost every single theory of time travel developed in the Federation since Kirk's time was completely useless.

It was hard for the scientist in her to accept that people had invested all that time and effort into theorems that could be so easily derailed.

"What are you planning doing, Mr Harris?" She asked softly.

Xander's lips twitched, "I'm going to take some of my people in and we're going to have a chat with Mr Starling. Nice and friendly like."

The Orcas were lifting off, Joyce Summers hanging on to her seat like it was a life preserver, when the call came in and the pilot looked back.

"Hey, Apone!"

"What is it, kid?" The black man growled back.

"Merlin just asked for Volunteers for a suicide mission!"

Joyce' eyes widened at the choice of words, but the Sergeant just grinned.

"Oh yeah? What's in it for us?" He asked, teeth gleaming white against his dark lips.

"Commander's leading this one personally!"

"No shit!?"

"That's what the Wizard says."

Apone glanced around, and the other soldiers looked at him.

"Aw man..." One of them whined.

"Let's kick this pig, Sergeant," A woman growled.

The others just smiled and nodded.

"Alright, we're in!" Apone yelled to the pilot.

"Alright, we're redirecting to LA! It'll add... oh, twenty five minutes to our flight time, so I hope everyone's comfortable back there!"

Joyce shook her head, dazzled by the situation, and almost missed the motion that started beside her.

"Faith?" Buffy spoke up, "What are you doing?"

Joyce looked over, and stared as the young girl started shucking her clothing, stripping down to a black one piece suit that clung to her young body suggestively.

"Xan ain't going this one alone," Faith said, shaking her head. "Yo! Hicks!"

One of the soldiers looked over, "What's up, Faith?"

"You got an extra kit for me?"

Hicks smirked, slapping an overhead compartment. "No problemo."

On further down the Orca transport, Joyce saw young Jacks stand up and sigh. "You fools need some company?"

Joyce waited for someone to speak some sense into the little girl, but was shocked when Faith spoke up first.

"More the merrier, Jackie girl... just uh, grow up a little, huh? We ain't trying to make em laugh themselves to death."

Jacks glowered at the raven haired girl, but only nodded as she closed her eyes and suddenly began to... spin in mid air. Joyce and half the people on the transport were in shock as she became a blur for a few seconds, then was replaced by a woman who had to be older than Buffy, maybe even in her early twenties.

"You coming, love?" The new woman asked Vin Tanner, eyes twinkling.

The guardian of the little girl just smirked, and Joyce felt her world tilt just a little more as the two of them kissed.

"You know it, snowbird," Vin drawled as he threw his lot in with the rest.

Chapter 19

The transporter beam let go of the small group, leaving them standing in the alley across from the Chrono-Works corporate headquarters, and once again Xander shuddered invuluntarily in response.

"Damn that's really disgusting."

Janeway raised an eyebrow, looking over at him as he shook himself as if to shake off somehing that clung to him. "The Transporter is harmless."

"I know that, it's just not built with someone like myself in mind," Xander muttered, "I can't shut off my internal senses, and it's not nice to feel your molecules dissasembled."

"Yeah right, like anyone can feel that... The beam is designed to disrupt neural impulses during transport," B'Elanna muttered, "You can't feel a thing. It's all your imagination."

"Yeah, well, I've got a good imagination." Xander replied, rubbing the back of his neck. "I'm surprised you don't have people going nuts from this thing all the time... Semi-sensitive people would be able to feel *something* without being able to tell what... That kind of conflicting signals would drive an unprepared mind mad."

Janeway exchanged a glance with B'Elanna, both of them thinking the same thing before dismissing it from their mind. In the early days of transporter use many people did, in fact, go literally mad, breaking down from Transporter psychosis. The annular confinement beams had been carefully tailored to reduce such events to near zero, but it did still happen from time to time, though that information was not easily released by the Federation scientific or governing bodies.

Xander didn't notice the looks they exchanged however, and instead turned toward the street as three gloss black armored Hummers glided to smooth stops and began to disgorge men and women in uniforms. They left their weapons in the vehicles for now, but Xander already knew what they had on hand, and what they would be carrying.

"Sir!" Miko Lung saluted as she saw him approach, with the Two Starfleet Officers and three man security detail following. "Merlin reports that he and Captain Braxton have an eighty three percent resolution equation as of three minutes ago."

"Not good enough." Xander replied cooly, reaching the vehicles. "Eighty three percent could conceivably be achieved even if the Earth itself was somehow misplaced."

"Indeed." Merlin's voice spoke up from the speakers of the Hummers. "Between Captain Braxton and myself, however, we have increased the results to eighty five percent... and I think I can guarantee that the Earth won't be misplaced."

Xander chuckled, "Thanks, but I want at least in the ninety ninth percentile, Merlin..."

"Understood, Commander."

Xander looked across the street at the corporate building and fell silent for a few seconds before turning back to Miko. "We've got a few minutes before our support gets here, Lung. Take this game upstairs... If he gets that ship off the ground, I want you in place to intercept it."

The slim asian woman nodded, instantly turning down the alley and breaking into a flat out run.

"Hey!" Charles Gunn blinked, "Where's she... Holy SHIT!"

The entire group turned and stared as a low rumble tore the air, and steel blue wings clove the air, lifting the immense body of the dragon into the air, tearing out of the alley and climbing fast for the skies over Los Angeles.

"What the hell was that?" Trevor Lockey asked in a shocked voice, his hand resting on his sidearm.

"Miko..." Alhonna Gunn whispered softly. "I knew she wasn't... normal... but..."

"Explanations later." Xander snarled, cutting off similar questions from the starfleet group, "We've got more pressing matters now."

"Damn, Xan..." Charles shook his head, "You travel in strange groups. You know that, right?"

Xander spared him a crooked smile, "Yeah... I picked you up somewhere along the way, didn't I?"

"Yeah... Hey!"

Ahlonna snickered softly, shaking her head as her brother glared at Xander, who was ignoring him.

"Trevor, dispatch your people around the perimeter... get them ready to help with crowd control if things spill out into the streets," Xander ordered quietly, "I think we'll go with the bomb threat cover story... Do we have any clients on this block?"

The former police officer stared at Xander for a moment before the reflexes ingrained in him kicked in and he drew a computer display from the front seat of the Hummer.

"No," He shook his head, "The closest is about three blocks north of here."

"That's too bad." Xander said, "Get your people deployed anyway."

Trevor Lockley nodded slowly, gesturing several teams out and around, then looked back at Xander, "We're going to have a talk about exactly what your organization does."

"Let's hope so." Xander replied cooly. "Merlin, ETA on the reinforcements."

Henry Starling frowned, looking at his watch as he paused in his work for a brief moment.

<Where is Mr Dunbar?> He frowned, shaking his head. Taking care of the Robinson situation wasn't something that should take long.

He shook his head, sighing as he retrieved an advanced diagnostic tool and connected it to the bank of quantum circuits he'd opened up in the Aeon. All the circuits checked out clean and he closed the panel before pulling himself out of the relatively small cockpit of the deceptively tiny ship.

He walked over to the building's security control center and thumbed open the intercom.


"Yes, Mr Starling?"

"Has Mr Dunbar reported back yet?"

"No Mr Dunbar."

"Thank you," Henry frowned, closing the connection. He turned away, then, on a feeling, activated the building's security suite.

Internally nothing showed up odd, but the external cameras showed three black Hummer style military vehicles parked outside, with a group of people standing around them. Starling frowned, tapping on the screen to highlight the group before zooming in.

"Well I'll be damned," He whispered, recognizing Janeway as well as Harrison as they spoke with others around them.

"You're too late, Mr Harrison," Henry Starling promised as he turned away from the screens and headed back to the Aeon.

"We're going to storm the building," Xander said, speaking to the front line soldiers assigned to the LA Office, men and women who had not, quite, qualified for full disclosure and recruitment into the Knighthood yet, but were still too good to be left waving in the wind. "Our objective is Henry Starling, who I would prefer alive."

"Sir," One woman raised her hand.

"Yes, Turner?"

"Is this legal, Sir?"

"Not strictly speaking, no." Xander replied grimly. "That's why this is a volunteer only operation. Anyone who wants out, no hard feelings... You won't lose your job."

The men and women looked at each other for a moment, then looked back. None of them backed down.

"Alright," Xander nodded, "While we go in the front door, we've got a second time that's going to come in through the roof. Please, remember, no killing if we can avoid it. Use the Zats you were assigned, and try not to hit anyone more than once. Starling is a scumbag, but his people are just employees of a scumbag..."

A few of the men and women chuckled, but they all nodded.

"Good," Xander glanced up, "Let's get ready... Our reinforcements are here."

"We are entering orbit of Chornoworks Headquarters building now. Prepare to deploy."

The words were almost innocuous, but they sent a shiver down the spine of Joyce Summers as she watched the armed and armored men and women rise to their feet and line up.

"Good to go!" They yelled over the sudden rush of wind that howled through the interior of the craft as a door opened in it's side.

"Hey B!" Faith yelled over her shoulder to where Buffy was watching, Joyce' arm gripped around her tightly. "You look after em here, girl! Don't worry none bout us... This is what we live for!"

Then the young girl grinned and jumped, causing Joyce to jerk in her seat.

Vin and Jacks when next, the girl, no woman... whatever... gliding out the door, and into the wind with an unearthly motion that seemed separated from the laws of physics while the handsome man just threw himself casually into space.

The Soldiers followed in quick motions then, one after the other until they were all gone, the last one shouting the word 'clear' over the roar of the wind just before she jumped free.

The door slid shut then, cutting off the noise and leaving the occupants staring at the cold metal door.

"God speed, guys," Dawn whispered, softly but loud enough for Joyce to hear.

She looked down at her youngest, and began shaking. She could help it, her muscles were just jumping, and her heart was roaring in her ears.

"It's ok, Mom." Dawn said, looking up at her. "Xander's the best, and he works with the best. Everything's gonna be ok."

"I just don't understand," Joyce said, looking around, "What's going on?"

"Team in the air!"

"Go!" Xander snapped, breaking into a run as he led his people across the street, causing traffic to snarl and scream to a halt.

The group of Knighthood, Good Knight Security, and Federation people moved together as they stormed the large doors to the first floor of the Chronowerks building, taking the startled security guards by complete surprise as they ran right over the first level of security in the keystone of Starling's private empire.

The second line, however, was already waking up to the threat, and they were a little better trained and armed than the public face of Chronowerks security.

One of Xander's security people went down under phaser fire, and they the snarl of zats and gunfire erupted as people screamed and threw themselves to the ground in all directions. Phasers whined, crisscrossing the lobby, burning through the lightweight armor that both sides wore like ice picks through tissue paper while Zat-Nicatel charges erupted from the ranks of the Good Knight Security people, cutting into the Chronowerks ranks like bottled lightning.

Chapter 20

Alarms going off through the lab were the first hint that Starling had that things had come to a head, and he smashed his head against a service cover when they sounded.


Starling snarled, rubbing his head as he looked over to the security wall, just in time to see a beam of red light flash past the camera, followed by blue lightning going in the other direction.

"What the hell...?"

He clambered down from the Aeon, scrambling over to the cameras and tuned them to the lobby as the assault force took the room, leaving his guards and employees laying sprawled where they fell across the marble floor of the ostentatious room. Those that had survived the assault were being thrown hard to the ground by professional soldiers, their hands tied behind them with plastic strips.

Harrison's organization was far larger than it's paper trail would indicated, Starling realized in that one instant. This wasn't a technical uberkind who had beat him to the punch with the holographic display technology, this was something else entirely.

"Who is he?" Starling murmured in shock as the lobby was secured and the team began to push further into his building.

He may have pondered that question for some time longer, except that another alarm sounded, this one on a different floor.

Starling's head jerked up, eyes catching a second group, this one moving without security to slow them, from the top floor down.

"Impossible!" He blurted, "No one could have gotten on my rooftop without me knowing! I have transport blockers working there!"

"Having trouble?"

Starling turned, snarling at the tired looking source of that comment, "Shut up, program."

The Doctor of the USS Voyager looked somewhat the worse for wear, an interesting algorithm in his code apparently altered his physical appearance to match his registered stress and fatigue levels. Starling had found it amusing to watch as the impeccable and perfect image deteriorated under the sensory overload he'd provided.

It was a spectacularly worthless, though elegantly impressive, bit of coding, he had to admit.

Now, though, the Doctor was looking a bit better as it smirked back at him.

"They're coming to get you."

"I won't be waiting to meet them," Starling muttered, climbing up and into the Aeon.

The security door, made of solid steel, screamed as it was ripped from it's hinges by a well placed kick from an apparently diminutive brunette with a snarl on her pretty face.

"Clear!" She called a second later, her rifle sweeping the corridor on the other side of the door.

She moved in quickly, the rest of the team fanning out behind her as they followed.

"No security on the upper levels yet," Hicks said cooly, looking over Hudson's shoulder to the scanning device in his hand.

"Nope," Hudson replied, "We're clear."

"Boytoy's got em all hot and bothered downstairs," Faith replied, "Let's just get that asshole and his space ship, alright?"

"Two floors down, I'm betting." Hudson said.

"You're betting?"

"Hey? I ain't never seen a signal like this before, so yeah, it's a guess," The former Marine replied, "But given how much juice it's putting out, and all the other weird shit I'm seeing here, I'll lay cash that it's our target."

"That's good enough for me," Hicks said, pushing past Hudson to look down the stairs. "No sign of anyone. Let's move."

Apone grinned, a damaged cigar butt clamped in his gleaming white teeth, "Yes. Let's."

"We're clear down here, Sir."

Xander nodded to the Good Knight Security agent waving him and three people behind him on, "Ok, we're going to start pushing in slowly... Lot's of noise, but let's try to keep the casualties down. If they're willing to just try to hold us off, we'll let them."

"Yes Sir. The Cameras?"

"Leave them. I want them looking at us, not everywhere else."

The man nodded and broke off, while Captain Janeway appeared from behind him. "We have to get up to the labs."

Xander nodded, "I know, but we're not in the best position to do it. Let my people upstairs get to them and shut down the jamming field. We'll use your sparkly thing to get past the security."

Janeway nodded reluctantly, "I need to get my Doctor back."

Xander nodded, thinking about what little he'd been told. A sentient computer program acting as the ship's doctor. Not so far fetched, he supposed. He grinned ferally, "No worries, we'll get him out. You want him on a half dozen CDs, or a DVD?"

"This is it!" Hudson called as he stepped off to one side, out of the line of fire of the security door. "I've got some really weird readings coming from the other side of this wall... Yo Merlin, are you getting this??"

The AI, who had been observing the mission through the Fold Links, responded over his Comm a moment later. "Indeed. Power levels are peaking, Corporal..."

Hudson frowned, looking at the scanner again. "Sarge!"

"What is it, Hudson?"

"Something's funky here!"

"You wanna clear that up a little!?"

"I don't know, but there power readings are going off the scale!"

"Fuck it!" Faith snarled, slamming her foot into the security door, buckling the metal into a deep bowl shape, wrenching it from the wall where the concrete actually shattered into dust before the door metal could give way.

The clang of the door landing on the floor echoed down the hall as concrete dust billowed out from the damaged walls. Through the dust, Hicks and Apone lunged, dropping to their knees as Drake and Vasquez followed with the smart guns whining at the leash.

"Clear!" Hicks called, "Hudson! Location!"

"Twenty three meters that way!" Hudson called, pointing down the hall.

"Ok, move it, slackers" Apone called, clapping Faith on the shoulder as she moved past him. "We've got a job to do here!"

The sound of an explosion made it through all the way into his secured lab, startling Henry Starling as he completed the powerup sequence. He stared back out toward the sound for an instant, then dropped down into the pilot's seat and keyed in the last pre-lift sequence as the Aeon sealed itself around him.

The external cameras caught sight of the assault team as they burst into his outer lab, but Starling just smiled.

"To late."

His finger came down on the control board, and a red warning light flashed into existence as the whine of the phaser banks charging filled the cockpit and room.

The Doctor winced as the sound vibrated through the air, leaving him no place to go but away from the ship as far as he could make it. The sound wasn't precisely the same as on Voyager, nor did it fit any of his recorded samples for weapon signatures, but he knew it for what it was.

The Aeon was rumbling to life as the door to the lab blew inward, revealing a small girl on the other side. That oddity barely occured to the Doctor, however, as he waved at them from where he was trapped by the holo projection device.

"Look out! He's going to fire!!"

The girl looked puzzled, but a large black man behind her tackled her from behind, lifting her easily off the ground and yanking her back out of the lab as he screamed over the rumble.

"Fire in the hole!!"

The Phasers seemed to have been waiting for that queue to open fire, and the whine peaked as two red-orange beams lanced out and intersected with the outer wall of the building. They blew the wall out, sending debris exploding out into the air above the LA streets, and then the Aeon slowly lifted off the concrete blocks supporting it.

The ship glided smoothly out through the hole it had made, then it's engines flared as it began to climb into the sky over Los Angeles.

"Bandit in the air!"

The call galvanized Xander, and he dropped to a half crouch behind cover as a phaser whined around him. "Say again!"

"I say again," Hicks voice came back, "Bandit in the air!"

"Lung! You're up! Bring him down if you can! Eagles, move to intercept if he get's past her!" Xander growled, "Hicks, I need that damn jammer shut down! ASAP!"

"On it!"

Xander looked around, jerking his hand up, balled in a fist. His people noted it almost instantly, then he waved them all back.

"What's going on!?" B'Elanna growled from where she was trying to hit one of the Chronoworks security people.

"Distractions over!" He called, "Pull back! Pull back!"

Miko Lung wheeled high over the city as she located the target. It was climbing fast, and accelerating, but it was below her and didn't know she was waiting. She folded her wings and ducked her nose groundward, accelerating into a dive herself as she called up the elemental forces at her command.

She'd lived on this planet a long time, by human standards at least, and there was no way she was going to let someone just wipe it out, whether they intended it that way or not.

The Dragon Scream filled the air as her talons extended, dark thunderclouds forming from nothing in the air behind her, a crack of lightning backlighting her for a second before the dark grey of the clouds caused her greyish blue skin to appear almost invisible against the storm she had called up.

A thousand meters below her, the people of Los Angeles looked up and frowned, wondering both at the unnanounced storm that had formed, and the odd, bestial scream of raw emotion that had seemed to accompany the first flash of lightning.

After a moment they mostly just shrugged and went about their business.

Mostly. Among some of the inhabits of the City of Angels, a very few recognized the sound and the storm. They quickly stopped what they were doing and found things to interest them inside, preferably underground.

Chapter 21

"So close..." Braxton murmured as sweat poured down his face, the tension making his every muscle want to jump. "So very close..."

"Starling has launched the Aeon."

The calm voice of merlin shocked him to his core, and the Captain of the Timeship jerked in place, looking up from the computer terminal he was working on.

"What? No! He can't! We're not ready!"

"Nevertheless, he has launched. Knighthood assets are being deployed to intercept, and Voyager is now powering all weapons and shields."

"Voyager is no match for the Aeon." Braxton muttered grimly, shaking his head. "We don't have enough time."

"We will make do, Captain. For now, we continue." merlin said, numbers on the screen continuing to flash past as he ran the calculations.

Braxton stared at the computer, then behind him at the four women and two Starfleet officers standing behind him. Finally he nodded, "Right. Let's do this."

Starling frowned as he looked up at the storm clouds that filled the air above him, trying to remember if there had been an announcement about the storm on the forecast. He didn't remember one, but he had been distracted.

The CEO of Chronoworks shook off the thought and tapped in a series of commands on the panel in front of him. The Aeon was climbing smoothly, all the diagnostics checking clear, and he was looking forward to seeing what space really looked like.

He had just reached an altitude of seven hundred meters when the Aeon suddenly jolted like it had struck a solid mass, and fell almost a hundred meters before it's engines recovered automatically.

"What the hell?"

Outside, beyond Starling's view, the steel blue form of Miko Lung clawed it's way slowly up the hull of the climbing vessel. The wind tore at her armor like skin, whistling through the spiney protrusions that defined her shape, but Miko ignored it all as she roared in exertion and wrenched herself up harder.

Inside, Starling was desperately trying to locate the source of the sudden drag and hull alarms that had gone off. He tapped in command after command, finally locating an alert that indicated some kind of hull damage.

"Computer! External view!"

The two hundred and ten degree viewer shifted then, showing an external view of the hull, and an immense monster howling into the wind. Starling jolted in shock, crying out at the sight, and accidentally brought his arm down on the controls.

The Aeon's engines flared once and died, the ship twisted in the howling wind as it rolled over fast and began to drop. Miko was dislodged by the sudden spin, her claws tearing long gouges in the advanced armor, while Starling struggled to get the ship back online inside.

"Where is the jammer!"

"I don't know!" Hudson growled, jumping over a bit of debris that had blown back from the Aeon's attack on the exterior wall. "It's got to be around here somewhere! This thing says that we're right in the middle of the field!"


Faith turned to look at the balding guy in the blue pajamas, raising an eyebrow as she examined him both visually and viscerally. "You're... ummm... What are you?"

The Marines, who had thus far been only covering the man with a pro-forma amount of attention swung their weapons in on him when Faith asked that question. The man didn't actually appear to be that impressed.

Jacks cocked her head to one side, curiosity filling her expression. "There's no aura."

Vin raised an eyebrow as his slim companion stepped forward and poked her finger unceremoniously through the man's forehead. "Ghost?"

"No..." She said, swirling the finger around a little. "It tingles, but there's no evidence of an aura here. No soul, as we know it. Huh."

"Now cut that out!" The man in blue growled, pulling his head back. "Really now!"

"He's... Hell man, I don't think he's even there..." Hudson said, looking suspiciously between his instrument and the figure, "What the fuck are you man? You a projection?"

"I'm a Doctor, but for the record, yes I'm also a projection." The man said dryly, "And, if you'd listen for a moment, I'll tell you how to shut off the jamming field."

"Oh yeah?" Apone growled, waving his M41 under the 'Doctors' nose. "How would you know how to do that?"

"Because I watched Starling set it, and I have a digitally perfect memory."

"Good enough for me," Faith growled, "Do it. Screw with us, and we'll blast every piece of machinery in here until we find the one that's generating you. Got it?"

For the first time there was a crack in the Doctor's superior attitude. He nodded and pointed to a console, "It's right there."

"Go on," Apone growled, waving the muzzle of his weapon.

"Janeway to Voyager," The Captain's voice rang out over the Bridge as the men and women on Voyager bent to their tasks.

"Go ahead, Captain," Chakotay said cooly from where he was bending over the Helm console.

"The Aeon is lifting off," She said, "I want you to prepare to intercept."

"We're moving into position now," Chakotay replied, "The Fighters have already re-entered the atmosphere."

"Understood. Is Harry there?"

Chakotay glanced over at Harry Kim, who spoke up, "Yes Captain?"

"Have you got anything on that shielding you promised me?"

"I might be able to rig something, Captain, but without tests..."

"I know the risks, Ensign," Janeway replied, "Do it."

"Aye Aye Ma'am."

"Chakotay... Get ready to beam our people out of here on my command."

"Aye Captain. Standing by."

Janeway finished her commands to her crew while Xander supervised the retreat from Chronoworks, pulling their casualties out. The entire operation had taken less than three minutes, but sirens were already sounding in the distance.

<The benefit of working in a high rent neighborhood,> Xander thought sourly, thinking about all the times that he and his friends could have used help of some kind, any kind, from the so called authorities.

He shook off the thought and waved his people back, even as his fold comm hummed.

"Harris," He growled.

"Field is down!" Faith's voice rang clear and sweet over the comm, bringing a grin to his face.

"We're good to go, Captain. You're people are up."

Janeway nodded instantly, tapping the badge set just above her left breast. "Janeway to Voyager, three to transport directly to the location of Starling's Lab."

"Lockely!" Xander called, "You're in charge! Get my people out of here!"

A humm filled the air a moment later, whisking Xander, Janeway, and Torres away.


The Doctor's surprise and pleasure was decidedly unlike any AI Faith had known, his emotions seemed genuine and unrehearsed. The Captain's cool nod in return seemed so much more computerlike.

"Doctor, it's good to see you again." Janeway said, waving Torres toward the projection, "B'Elanna, see to him."

"Sorry Sir," Apone said, saluting to Xander, "We let him get away."

"He had some advantages, Gunny," Xander replied, "Secure the perimeter, we may have some company come to check on the noise up here."

"Aye Sir."


"Yes Sir," Apone said, half turning back.

"Zats, if you will. I don't want a bloodbath."

"Yes Sir."

Xander watched as the former US Marines broke from the lab, moving out to cover the entry ways, Apone ordering Hudson to fry the elevators as they went. "Jacks, Vin, check the outerlab, will you? See if there's anything there that Kaina recognizes, even remotely."

The duo nodded, stepping out while Xander turned to look at the destruction that had been rained down on the inner lab.

"What about me, Boytoy?" Faith asked, "You want me on perimeter duty?"

"No. You're with me, Faith." Xander said, nodding toward some of the equipment lined up against the walls. "Let's see what else Starling has cooking in this place."

"Whatever you say, boytoy."

Henry Starling's fingers ran over the consol in front of him at dead panic speeds, one part of the projected screen showing the screaming monster behind him in such clear detail that he thought he could almost feel it's hot breath on the back of his neck.

He'd barely gotten the shields up before the lightning bolts began to rain down on him like, well, like rain in fact. Hundreds of millions, even billions, of volts of electrical power were absorbed by the shields, routed through the superconducting fibers of the ship's power system, and stored in the vast energy capacitance banks within the ship, but each blast weakened the receptors that routed the energy, dropping his shield levels with slow, but brutal effect.

"What IS that thing!?" Starling growled, his voice shaking as he desperately called on more power from his engines.

The ship's computer took that as a real question and quietly responded, "No known match to alien life forms. One mythical match located. Dragon, Oriental. Lord Goddess of the Storm."

"Shut up!" Starling growled, his hand slapping down on the computer voice interface override. "I don't have time for a lesson in mythology right now!"

The computer didn't respond, but a small warning light flickered to life a few seconds later, unnoticed by Starling in his half crazed attempts to out distance the beast from below.

Warning, the light flashed. Incoming contacts detected. Voice warning system disabled. Warning. Incoming contacts detected.

Henry Starling didn't see the flashing red light amidst the vast array of information screaming to be acknowledged, his mind completely focused on the threat he had already seen.

Chapter 22

"Avalon, this is Eagle Flight entering final attack approach," Doug Masters spoke calmly, flipping a series of motion sensitive switches with quick flicks of his knuckles, "We have target acquisition."

"Roger, Eagles, Avalon Copies." The return voice wasn't Merlin's, which surprised Doug slightly, but he shrugged it off. Whatever it was, Merlin had good reason to be elsewhere, he was certain. "Eagles, do not... I say again, do NOT use missiles to engage target while in Earth's Atmosphere. Confirm."

"Iron Eagles, Confirm." Doug replied, switching to Tac frequency, "All Eagles, safe missile guidance."

Some grumbles echoed over the net, but the confirmation calls came back quickly just the same. Each of the pilots quickly realized that engaging a target within the atmosphere with Naquadria ship killers was a sure way to vape a city or two. A second later Doug's tell tales had flickered from green to red.

"Missiles guidance safed, Avalon. Pressing the engagement with Guns and Cannons."

"Confirmed Eagles. Good Hunting."

"You heard the control, boys and girls... Knife range only, let's stick our blades somewhere painful." Doug smirked as he haloed the climbing ship in his minds eye, reaching his hand down without looking to the decidedly un-standard control by his left knee. "Y'all ready?"

The calls came back quick, the words of eager young men and women who were immortal in their own minds.

Doug took a deep breath, "Cool."

He flipped the switch and the sounds of Queen's One Vision began to play.

"Oh yeah," He whispered, "Real Cool."

The whine of phasers erupted as Starling figured out the fast tracking aspect of the targeting system, the twin beams lancing down from the aft emitters. The beast behind him twisted in the air, somehow evading the first blast, and Starling winced as the twin beams destroyed half a city block below.

"Damn." He muttered, more surprised by the power than anything else, then he dialed in the tracking software again and fired once more.

The phaser whine sounded again, the beams reaching out and catching the beast this time.

"Yes!" Starling screamed in exultion as the beam exploded in a massive discharge, knocking the monster from the air. "Got you!"

A warning buzzer erupted even as the monster fell to the city below, startling Starling as he looked around for it's source.

"What the hell...?"

The Aeon suddenly rocked under heavy fire as a flight of fighters screamed out of the storm, forward weapons blazing as they arced down on level flight with him, then began to pace him upwards.

"Who the hell are these people!?" Starling screamed as his shields began to drop under the constant barrage of fire. He increased power to the shields and engines, dumping it from the non-essential systems, including life-support.

The Aeon continued to climb, accelerating as the power increased and the shields firmed up.

"Lung is down, I say again, Lung is down! Request SAR over Los Angeles!" Doug called even as the forward graviton accelerator poured out enhanced high density slugs into the climbing starship. "I say again..."

"Understood, Eagle Lead. SAR dispatched."

Doug shut up, teeth showing as he nudged the throttle all the way open, the acceleration slamming him back into his seat for a brief instant before the inertial compensation system kicked in. "Understood, Avalon. Eagle Lead... Out."

"Mother fucking son of a..."

Everyone turned to look at Xander as he suddenly cursed and lunged for the gaping hole in the wall.

"What's going on!?" Janeway demanded, moving in his direction.

Faith's face was drawn, her lips tight across her gums as her teeth bared. "That sick fucking bastard!"

"What happened!?" B'Elanna demanded.

"Starling opened up on Miko..." Xander said, hanging out the hole, looking off toward where part of the city was burning. "Full power on those energy weapons. He fried the better part of a block..."

"Is that...?" Faith pointed.

"Miko..." Xander hissed as the tumbling figure in the distance slammed into a skyscraper, hard enough that they could both see the debris fly out from the impact.

"Can't help her, boytoy," Faith whispered. "Can't help her now."

"I know." Xander pulled himself back in, shaking his head. "I know."

"Could someone please get me out of this lunatics computers!?"

Xander shot the projection a glare, but ignored the request as he stepped back in. "This entire lab stinks of temporal paradox."

"It's no better in here, Commander," Jacks said, stepping back inside. "It's over my head, but Kaina thinks that there's a control system for an energy shield out here."

"What kind of shielding?"

"It looks temporal," Jacks said.

Xander rubbed his face, pushing the sweat up into his hairline as he pushed the hear back from his forehead. "Alright... Captain, get your 'doctor' out of these systems... You may not have much time left to return to your ship. Jacks, go call the marines back here."

Jacks nodded as Janeway nodded to B'Elanna, "Do it."

"Vin, show me the console you two found."

"It's back this way."

"Here they come..."

"Arm phasers and photons," Chakotay replied to the declaration, "Ensign Baythart, prepare to engage a pursuit course."

"Aye Commander."

"The Aeon is evading..."


"Negative, Commander. The Fighters."

"On screen."

The large forward screen flashed to a close up view of the timeship as it pulled hard around, trying to evade the fire from the fighter wing that was burning hard on it's tail. Chakotay was surprised by the sheer speed and maneuverability exhibited by both sides. Within the atmosphere of a planet, even a fully shielded high performance shuttlecraft would have a great deal of difficulty keeping up with either side in that running battle.

If the timeship got out of the atmosphere, Chakotay wasn't certain they'd be able to keep up with it.

"Let me know when you have a firing lock."

"Aye Sir."

<Captain... Where are you?>

"Can you get his program?" Janeway demanded.

"It's not that easy," B'Elanna growled, "The EMH is a very complicated program... I can't just download him into anything here. My tricorder doesn't have nearly enough memory to hold him... maybe if I pare the program down to bare essentials..."

"What!?" The Doctor yelped, "Now wait just a second here..."


"No, listen! Starling was bragging about some of the technology he acquired... He said that he had a mobile emitter he could put me in," The Doctor spoke quickly, the idea of B'Elanna 'amputating' his program urging him on. "I think he was trying to get me to tell him... I don't know, anything... I didn't though..."

"I believe you," Janeway said soothingly, "Did he show you this emitter?"

The Doctor nodded, pointing to a table, "Right there."

B'Elanna plucked up the device, looking at it thoughtfully. "I think this is a contact lead... I might be able to initiate a transfer..."

"Whatever you're doing, you'd better hurry up!" Xander called from the next room, "Starling isn't going down easy, and if the Aeon is destroyed..."

"Resolution..." Janeway whispered, her face paling.

"Exactly," Xander said calmly, his entire being too serene to be real. "Without the Aeon, the event that sent you back here can't happen. If Voyager doesn't come back..."

"Than the Aeon will never arrive either," Janeway finished, "And the timeline will fix itself."

"It'll try." Xander corrected her, shaking his head. "But it'll fail."

"What happens then?" Janeway asked, almost afraid of the answer.

Xander looked over at her briefly, then took a deep breath. "We'll fight. We always do."

A silence descended, until it was interrupted by the arrival of Jacks and the Marines.

"What's up, Sir?" Apone asked.

"Get in the lab," Xander said, turning away, "It's temporally shielded."

"Where are you going!?" Faith growled.

"Someone has to turn on the shields." Xander replied cooly, "Apone!"


"If the Paradox resolves... contact Merlin as soon as you get out. He'll have your orders."

Chapter 23

"Eagle Lead going Guns!" Doug snarled, finger tightening around the trigger and causing the small fighter to vibrate around him as the forward cannon opened up, unloading the eight centimeter cannon rounds into the target ahead of him.

The Time ship evaded the intial burst, but the fighter's HUD lit up showing Doug where his shots had gone as clearly as if he'd fired tracers and he walked them into the fleeing ship. Energy discharges flashed as the rounds slammed into the ship's shields.

Beside him he could hear the other Eagle Flight pilots calling for Guns as they swung around, catching the timeship in a three dimensional pincer, hitting it from above, below, behind, and both sides at the same time. They could see it shudder in the air as it struggled to climb, and for a moment Doug thought they might have gotten it.

Then it's nacelles flared with a bright flash and it suddenly powered up and away.

"Full power climb!" He called, slamming his reactor control full forward as he automatically engaged the anti-gravity field and inertial dampeners to equal power.

The Hammerhead flights suddenly tore up, climbing hundreds, then thousands of meters in seconds as they pursued the fleeing vessel.

"The Aeon is climbing, Commander!"

"Damn!" Chakotay growled, "Do we have a clear shot?"

"Almost... the United States is still behind him... if we miss..."

Chakotay knew, if they missed, they might hit something, or more importantly someone, below. He flinched, then shook his head, "Don't miss."

The man at tactical blanched, but nodded, "Aye Commander."

A few seconds passed, then, "We have a lock..."

"Open fire."

"Aye Commander."

The bridge whined with the sound of the capacitors discharging, and the brilliant beam lanced out and down toward the climbing ship.

"Son of a!" Starling swore as he was showered by sparks, a surge of energy jumping from the shield capacitors as the phaser beam struck him from above.


It had to be Voyager, of course.

"Computer, locate Voyager!"

"USS Voyager located." The computer replied calmly.

"Return fire!"

Voyager shuddered as the powerful phasers lanced into their shields, and Chakotay held on briefly for a moment as he watched, "Continue firing!"

Phasers lanced in both directions, seeking and finding targets as the two ships slugged it out practically toe to toe, and Chakotay could only imagine that whatever else Starling had managed to do, he hadn't gotten his weapon systems to full power. Because if he had, the fight would have been considerably quicker.

"Shields down to eighty two percent!" Kim called from behind him.

"Lock torpedoes!"


"You heard me, Ensign!"

"Yes Sir."

A moment later the man at Tactical nodded, "Torpedoes locked."

"Fire a full spread."

"Warning. Warning. Photon Torpedoes detected. Take Evasive Action..."

Starling swore again, punching in an evasive course, and felt his stomach lurch as the ship twisted in the air and dove again.

"No no no! Not down! Up! Up!" He screamed, but before he could finish a sudden blast tore through the ship, bouncing him around like a pinball as he tried to regain control.

"O-kay! So down is good too..."

"Warning, Shields are now at ninety three percent."

"Location of all hostile ships!"

The wrap around screen lit up, showing lights approaching from all sides as Starling swore again, his hands running over the controls.

"Initiate evasive maneuvers... pattern alpha twelve... Return fire on automatic!"

The Aeon's computer acknowledged briefly, then the ship twisted in mid air, avoiding a homing torpedoe, and began to climb again as it's phasers opened up on full automatic.

"I think I have it..." B'Elanna Torres said, tripping a switch on the mobile holographic emitter she was toying with.

"Hurry up!" The Doctor growled under his breath, noting the increasingly tense looks around them.

"I'm working as fast as I can, Doctor!" She growled, looking up.

"B'Elanna!" Janeway growled, "Not now!"

"Sorry, Captain," The half-Klingon said softly, probing the emitter with her tricorder as she placed it on a computer interface. "Ok... I think that's it!"

The Doctor opened his mouth to say something, but then vanished from sight.

"Where'd he go!?" One of the soldiers yelped, looking around sharply.

"Into that doo-dad," Another responded behind her, "If the forehead lady didn't fuck up."

B'Elanna growled almost inaudibly under her breath at that comment, but didn't have time to deck the asshole just then. She picked up the small shield shaped device and tripped a manual breaker with a quantum probe from her tool kit.

The Doctor suddenly reappeared, right in front of her, attached to the device.

"Please state the nature of the medical... Oh... I think you did it!" He replied, positively gleefully as he looked around.

"Try stepping out of the projector's range," B'Elanna suggested, "The next room should do it."

"Uh... Right..." He said hesitantly, moving closer to the door slowly, and pushed his arm outside. When it didn't fade away, he got up his nerve and stepped out of the lab room into the outer control room.

"It worked!" He said, grinning.

Xander Harris looked over his shoulder at the blue uniformed man and rolled his eyes, "I'm really happy for you, but Captain...?"

"Yes, Mr Harris?" Janeway asked, pushing past the Doctor.

"It's time for you to leave." Xander said firmly. "You don't want to be here right now."

She nodded slowly, "I think you're right. Good Luck Mr Harris."

"Thanks," He muttered, "But it's going to take more than that."

"Janeway to Voyager," The Captain said, tapping the badge on her chest.

"Voyager here, Captain," Chakotay replied, his voice relieved, "Are you alright?"

"We're fine, Commander. Ready to beam out."

"It'll be just a moment...." The sound of an explosion erupted behind them, "We're just a tad busy here."

"When you can, Commander."

"Almost have it..." Captain Braxton muttered, mopping the sweat from his brow as he eliminated another potential timeline from their list.

"Indeed. Ninety Seven point three four eight nine one two percent." Merlin's voice replied, "Approximately."

"Approximately??" Tom Paris asked, eyes wide. "Are you kidding me!?"

"No, he's not," Braxton growled, not looking up as people crowded around, "A variance of point zero one to the negative twentieth is enough to displace an entire galaxy, in theory."

"Stop distracting him," Alex Munday growled, pulling Tom Paris back, "I've got a PHD in advanced mathematics and he lost me a long time back... don't make him screw up!"

"Indeed." Tuvok voiced his agreement, "in fact, I believe that we should..."

"Voyager to Commander Tuvok."

Tuvok automatically tapped his commbadge, "Tuvok here."

"Stand ready to beam out, Commander. The Captain is calling for a return to the ship."

"Understood," The Vulcan said stiffly, stepping back from the group and nodding to Paris, who joined him. "We are prepared."

"It'll be just a moment..."

Tom grinned at the girls, "So long, ladies... it's been fun."

Dylan winked back at him, "Stop by if you're ever in the decade again... We could have fun."

"Fall back!" Chakotay ordered as the bridge shook again, "Evasive maneuvers! We need a minute to drop out shields!"

"I think I have it Commander!"

"Have what!?"

Kim tapped in another series of commands, "We're ready to beam the teams out!"

The Bridge shook again, and Chakotay glared at him, "Are you insane!? We need to pull back!"

"No Sir, we don't!" Kim replied as the bridge shook again, "He's using an automated firing program. I can beam them up between the shots!"

Chakotay gaped at the young man, unbelieving, "Are you certain, Ensign!?"

"Aye Commander."

He took a breath, then nodded, "Alright, then... Do it."

"Energizing... now!" Kim said.

Chakotay's hands gripped his seat as the shields dropped, but they were only down for a second before Kim announced that the transport had been successful. They flicked back up just as the next phaser blast tore in on them and the ship jerked again.

"Shields down to sixty two percent!" Kim announced with his next breath, as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred.

Chakotay shook the terror off, leaning forward, "Press the attack!"

"Go back in the lab, Faith." Xander said, not looking up.

After the Starfleet people had beamed out, faith had come out again to argue, but Xander was having none of it.

"I ain't going nowhere without you, X." She replied in a serious tone.

Xander didn't look back at her, he continued to navigate through the system, looking for what he needed. When he found it he brought the controls up on the touchscreen and looked them over. "I don't have time to argue with you right now."

"So I guess we're in this together," She smirked.

"No." Xander replied, "We're not."

His elbow snapped up, catching Faith by surprise as it slammed into her nose. Her head snapped back as the blinding pain from her nose caused her to black out as she staggered back. Being the Slayer, she was already recovering from it a second later when her vision cleared and she saw that Xander had turned toward her.

Her eyes widened in a betrayed expression as he calmly brought his foot up and placed it against her chest, between her breasts as he braced himself on the desk behind him.

"X! Don't you..." She started to yell, reaching for him with a speed only a Slayer could match.

A Slayer, or a Kani-Maro trained fighter.

His foot snapped out, lifting her off the ground and throwing her back through the air toward the door behind her.

"... Dare...!" She said in mid air,, sailing through the open door as Xander turned back and pressed a single command.

There was a shimmering sparkle of light at the door as she hit the ground in a slide that ended against a lab table, already scrambling back to her feet.

"X you sanctimonious PRICK!" She screamed, throwing herself against the shield, only to bounce back as the electrical shock tore through her.

Gunny Apone caught her before she could do anything else.

"There's nothing you can do, girl!" He swore as she struggled, but they were already fading as she watched Xander through the clear shield.

He drew a chair from the desk and slid it out in front of the door, flipping it around back to the door, then straddled it backwards so he could face her. He said something, but no sound seemed to come through the shield.

"X! You get your ass in here!" She screamed, "God damn you!"

He just smiled, shaking his head.

I'm Sorry.

She could read his lips as he said it, and the Slayer slumped in the former Marine's grip as Xander Harris closed his eyes on the other side of the door.

"Puta." Vasquez swore behind them as she watched the Commander calmly sitting outside, waiting for what was, in effect, personal oblivion.

"I hope that you're ready for this, Commander," Jacks said softly, her voice almost silent as she watched, fighting back an emotional response.

"What's that, Snowbird?"

"Nothing, love." She said, pressing against Vin. "Nothing."

"The Aeon is reaching Orbit! He's increasing to full sublight power!" Kim announced as Janeway and the others rushed onto the Bridge.


"The Aeon is going to full power, heading for the outer system," Chakotay replied grimly. "We're detecting increases in Chronoton production from her reactors."

"Pursuit course, maximum velocity," She replied, taking her seat as Tom pushed Baythart out of the Helm.

"Aye Captain," Tom replied.

Voyager shuddered for a moment, then lanced off into space in full pursuit. Along side her, the surviving members of the Iron Eagle squadron went to full power on their reactors as well, pacing the ship as they all chased the fleeing timeship.

"Fire!" Janeway called as they entered into range.

Torpedoes leapt out from the ship even as missiles tore free from the fighters, all of them tracking the fleeing Aeon even as a blue corona of temporal energy began to build around the ship.

"Ensign, if you have those shield modifications, now would be the time!" Chakotay called.

"Engaging the temporal modifications!" Kim yelled.

The weapons slammed into the timeship, staggering it at first, then quickly tearing it apart in a brilliant explosion of light as a pulse wave leapt out from the ship and swept over them. As Voyager jerked in space, the hammerhead fighters around her simply vanished completely as if they had never been, then the wave continued on to intersect the Earth.


Chapter 24

"Hang on back there folks, I'm gonna pour on the speed!"

Joyce shivered, huddling close to Buffy and Dawn as the craft they were in suddenly whined, pushing them towards the back. The looks being exchanged by those in uniform told her that they were frightened of something, but she couldn't tell what.

"What's going on!?" Dawn called out, the only one to speak up.

"Sorry, Miss," The pilot called back, "We're twenty minutes out, but I don't think we're going to make it in..."

A flash of light erupted around them, and where the frightened families had been, nothing but a stray breeze now blew over the pacific.

"Too late!" Braxton said, voice filled with despair, "We don't have it high enough!"

Behind him Tara and the Angels exchanged worried glances that really weren't filled with any comprehension as merlin's voice responded.

"Understood, Captain. Thank you, I will take it from here."

"How!?" Braxton asked in the last moments before the wave hit.

"I will... guess."

"GUESS!?" The Angels asked, incredulous, as a white light enveloped them, whisking them from the room.

Behind them, the previously empty bed was now filled with two figures moaning as they worked together feverishly, seeking pleasure in each other's embrace.

Jacks and Xander looked up together, from either side of the field.

"It's coming," The Fey said tensely, holding closer to Vin.

She prayed that the field would hold, because if it didn't, maybe she wouldn't wake up. Maybe she would be back in that cavern, locked in a death spiral by her own fear and depression.

Instead of here, with the man she loved, making a difference once more.

<Please hold...> She thought, then her eyes closed on the Commander's as he looked inside at them and smiled.

A wave of guilt assaulted her, for praying for something that selfish as the Commander vanished in a flash of light.

"Where'd he go!?" Faith screamed, hitting the field again, "Where the hell did he GO!?"

Merlin reached out as the energy wave slashed against Avalon's shields, opening himself to the power and throwing his will against the irresistible tide.

Time flashed past him, running backwards to the point where the Aeon first appeared in Earth's space, and he saw both the previous event and the new one. In the previous event the timeship appeared from the stream and hurtled into Earth, crashing into the planet after it's Captain performed an emergency beamout.

In the new timeline, nothing happened.

Henry Starling, young war protestor on a mountain hike, saw nothing and went back to his commune to make out with his best girl as the timeline moved on without him.

However, without Chronowerks, the technological revolution that produced the weapons and technology that had allowed the United States to decode the Stargate, the Time Sphere, and many of it's previous advancements never occurred. Under other circumstances, that might have been for the best, however somewhere out there, Merlin knew that there was an enemy with Temporally shielded equipment.

He reached out through the beginnings of the burgeoning telecommunications industry, accessing lines into the government through Echelon, Project RAND, and ARPA. He accessed government files, altering research data subtle in ways that matched Henry Starling's contributions to the growth of the industry.

When the first government computers were networked and the process of adding information to the network began, Merlin created a new person in the files, Alexander Harrison, entrepreneur owner of a newly formed startup called Renaissance Technologies. With some tricky paperwork and heavily fudged hacks into the nascent telecommunications system, he hired lawyers to handle the reclusive Mr Harrison's affairs, releasing the inventions to the world under various subsidiary firms.

Within Avalon there were people sitting behind the shielding, waiting to be awoken to the world beyond, but Merlin held them in temporal stasis as he, Uluru, and Niume watched the skies from behind their shielding. They had to be kept from the equation as long as possible, if he wanted to maintain a close approximation of the original timeline.

What he and Braxton had told the others was true, even the tiniest variable could conceivably result in the 'misplacement' of an entire galaxy, but the truth was that was an extremely low order probability. The only changes likely to occur were centered around Earth in this case, which wasn't of much comfort to the EI, if he needed such things as comfort.

The changes also radiated outward, however, affecting every world the SGC explored in the past year and a half, as well as going so far as to affect every world the Goa'uld Apophis held over the past year, unless the timeline proceeded precisely as before.

Unfortunately, while Merlin could exercise some degree of control over local events, his reach into the timestream as it passed lightyears from Earth were of considerably less ability.

In the end, while he was not human, nor precisely mortal, he was no the creator and was incapable of perfection.

In space over the serenely spinning Earth, the USS Voyager rested for a moment as it's crew picked themselves up from where the massive overload to their inertial dampeners had thrown them, each quickly clambering back to their station.

"Report!" Janeway called, her hair askew as she gripped her chair and looked around.

"All systems are green," Kim called, "Just barely on some of them... but..."

"We're still here..." Paris said from the Helm, shaking his head, "Whatever that's worth."

"By here, I assume you mean in Earth orbit?" Janeway asked dryly.

"Unless we've been bumped to one of the clone planets Starfleet finds every few decades." Paris replied dryly.

Janeway grimaced, choosing not to even think about that for the moment. "Stellar location?"

"Sol System. Sector Zero Zero One," Tom confirmed.

"Are we still in the twentieth century?"

"I'm checking for signals now, Captain," Kim replied, frowning at his instruments.

They all turned, looking tense until he nodded, "Earth's still there... and it seems to be the same as it was a few minutes ago."

Janeway let out a breath, "Open a channel."

"Channel open."

"Voyager to Commander Harris," Janeway called, then waited.

There was no response.

"Voyager to Merlin."


"Are we in range of their systems?" She asked, looking around.

Kim checked something, then nodded. "Yes Captain. They were easily able to reach this range before. There's no sign of the fighters either, and no radio traffic concerning the damage the battle caused in Los Angeles."

Janeway sat back, and saw Tom flash her a somber look. She understood his reticence, despite the annoyance Mr Harris, or Harrison, had cost her, he had helped them. In the end, he had sacrificed his own people, and himself, to save billions of people who would not even be born for hundreds of years.

"Captain! I'm reading a temporal surge!" Kim called.

"On screen!"

The screen flickered, and they saw an interference pattern emerge in front of them just as a ship appeared from it.

"It's the Aeon!" Kim called.


"They're hailing!" Kim said as the alarms wailed.

"On Screen." Janeway said tensely.

The screen changed again, and they saw a younger version of Braxton look out at them, "USS Voyager, I've been sent to bring you back to your own time."

Janeway let out a sigh of relief, "Captain Braxton... Did Starling survive?"

Braxton frowned, "I'm afraid I don't have any information on the previous timeline."

"I understand," She said, then paused, "Captain... Can you return us to our own time and leave us here in sector zero zero one?"

"I'm sorry, Captain... The temporal prime directive."

She sighed again, nodding, "I understand."

Xander opened his eyes, running his hand up the smooth thigh that was straddling his naked body and smiled at the piercing eyes that gleamed down at him as she smiled back and began to rock on him.

He groaned, listening to her moan as they moved together.

"Oh God," He groaned, "that's just perfect."

She moaned in response, her lips twisting up as she whispered, "I think a little... harder..."

He stifled a cry as she suddenly sank down hard on him, and sat up as he hugged her to him and buried his face in her breasts.

The door smashing open was their cue to move and she literally vanished from his lap as he twisted from the bed and pulled his desert eagle from under the pillow, landing on the floor as both his gun and his 'Gun' wound up pointed right at the door. Beside him, Paige coalesced into a solid figure as she too stood nude, hand reaching out for the intruders as a spell came to mind.



"What the hell!?" Paige screamed, diving for the covers.

"Madre de dios..." PFC Vasquez said, grinning at the site as the men in her squad suddenly turned away.

"I told you kicking down the door was a bad idea," Jacks told the Slayer, cocking her head to one side as she evaluated the Commander's condition.

"Jacks!? Vin!? What the FUCK!?" Xander snarled, grabbing a blanket from the bed.

"X..." Faith said softly, "You're ok."

"Why wouldn't he be!?" Paige asked indignantly, not noticing Xander suddenly groan until he pitched forward toward the floor face first.

"Xander!" She screamed, reaching her hands out and losing her blankets in the process.

He vanished into lights before hitting the ground, reappearing in her arms only to fall to the bed as she couldn't hold him up. "What's wrong!?"

Chapter 25

"Oh that just sucks..."

"Tell me about it."

Xander looked up, frowning, and then jumped up in a defensive posture as he recognized himself. "Ah! What the hell are you!?"

"Relax," The version of himself said, carefully straightening out an expensive suit and brishing it off, "I've been expecting this."

"Expecting what!?" Xander snapped, glancing around.

He was dressed in his armor, with a Knight Combat uniform on underneath, but his weapons weren't kicking around. He reached out with his mind, summoning Elan.

"Oh come on, did you have to drag her into this?" His counterpart sighed.


Elan appeared, flashing into existence between them, and landed gracefully on one bare foot as she smirked between them, "Why Alexander... You seem to be beside yourself."

"That sense of humor is your fault, I'm told," Xander's counterpart told him, "thanks ever so much."

"Oh what the hell is happening??"

"Reintegration." Elan and his counterpart replied instantly.


"Are you SURE I need to do this?" The other Xander asked Elan, waving in his direction, "I'm really not sure I want him dumbing me down."


Elan snickered, shaking her head, "He is no dumber than you are."


"Oy." Xander groaned, "Could someone please explain this one to me?"

"We were outside the shield, or so I'm told. Remember that much?"

Xander nodded, "Yeah... I remember that."

"Well, apparently you advanced enough to make reintegration possible, though if you'd been really advanced we wouldn't be having this conversation, it would have just happened." His other self said dryly, "Though I could have hoped you'd at least wait until Paige and I finished up."

"Paige!?" Xander blinked, then his eyes went wide, "Oh God! What about Nat!?"

"What about her?" His other self shrugged, "We broke up a few weeks ago. She came back from that mission to Bosnia and I was off chasing Terakans across Hong Kong... We haven't been able to get together in months. It was just a matter of time, you know. One long distance relationship is hard enough, two? Good luck with that."

Xander winced, remembering the groveling he'd had to do to apologize for missing their date, then sighed. "Yeah, you're probably right. How'd we... well, take it?"

"Well enough," He shrugged, "Nat got a little broken up, and we hit the bars for a couple days. Pretty standard. I'd avoid Dylan for a few weeks, if I were you... and I am.... but Alex gets it, so at least you don't have to avoid Kevin. We. I. Oh hell, I'm getting a headache."

"You're getting a headache? I thought it was just me." Xander groaned.

"It is just you." He growled back, "I'm not actually a separate person, remember?"

Elan practically cackled, rocking back as she floated in mid air.

"Shut up Elan!" They both snarled, which only caused her to wail even more.

Finally they just sighed and shook their heads.

"So... How much has changed?" Xander asked, hesitantly.

"Not much, according to Merlin." Was the reply, "Mostly just minor things, and luckily they're spread pretty evenly over the entire planet and every planet we've had contact with via the gate system, and even some of those we haven't had direct contact with. Plus, a big chunk of the variables were absorbed by whoever out there has temporally shielded equipment."

"So I don't need to be worried about... I don't know, entire sections of my life being gone??"

"Well, that's a personal level... pretty minor, so it's possible there's some changes there." His opposite responded, "But overall, I'm informed by merlin that nothing major has changed... Oh, I didn't reenroll in Sunnydale High."


"Well it was pointless, wasn't it!? We're rich, we're already quite well educated, and since we assassinated the Mayor Sunnydale is wide open for us to move in with a little more power. Personally I'm thinking that Mayor Giles has a nice ring."

Xander snickered, "Oh God."

His counterpart grinned, "Yeah, I've got the paperwork filled out at the mansion. Should be fun, just to see his face."

"Alright, now I believe that you're me."

"And you consider my form of humor low," Elanthielle interjected sourly.

"Yeah well, let's get this over with, shall we?"

Xander frowned, "I'm not really sure how..."

"I will guide you," Elan said, reaching out to touch both of them by the head.

There was a flash of light, and Xander staggered briefly, just catching himself before falling to the ground. "Whoa."

"Indeed, Alexander," Elan said, smiling, "Welcome back... as it were."

Xander blinked, trying to reintegrate the memories that were fighting for dominance, "Uh... Well... that's not so bad. Mostly the same..."

"Yes, Merlin did quite well for having to guess at the last equations."


Xander groaned as he lay in bed, head turning from side to side as Faith and Paige sat over him.

"So you really don't remember anything?" Paige asked, frowning bemusedly.

"I'm remember everything," Faith countered, "Just not the same stuff you remember. X was still dating Nat last time I checked. Now he's boffing you, not that it's a step down or nothing..."

"Thanks," Paige replied dryly, "You're so sweet."

Faith snorted, then looked down as Xander groaned again, her eyes moving down his body to the tent that had formed in the blankets Paige had tossed over him. "Got him nicely wound up, I see."

"Until you kicked down the DOOR." Paige glared at her, "Things were going pretty well."

Faith smirked and shrugged, "Hey, I was in a hurry."

"People in a hurry, KNOCK. Better yet, they call ahead." Paige countered, "Make an appointment..."

"Oooh," Faith cooed, leering across Xander's body, "You take appointments now?"

"Grow up."

"Like I keep telling X, I'm working on it." Faith smirked, checking out Paige under the towel the witch wore, "You wanna help?"

Paige blushed, holding the towel closer, "Do you have to act like that?"

"Hey, we just had another save the world deal from my perspective," Faith shrugged, "I'm Horny."

Paige's jaw dropped as she gaped at Faith, who just smirked back at her.

"You... You... You're impossible!" Paige finally sputtered out.

"Been called worse," Faith replied, leaning in and licking her lips as she caught Paige's gaze. They were only millimeters apart when a buzzing sounded between them, and a voice faintly filtered up.

"Commander!? Are you alright? The event just stabilized, Commander!?"

Xander sighed, reaching up and grabbed the fold comm, putting it against his jaw. "I'm fine, General, but your timing... SUCKS."

Faith and Paige stared down at him in shock, then Faith fell back in wails of laughter as Paige screamed.

"You bastard!" She smacked him across the chest, "You! You! You BASTARD!"

"Hey ow! Son of a! I didn't force...! OW!" Xander yelped, rolling free as Paige pursued him. He ducked clear of her, dodging nude through the room while Faith continued to cackle, "What? No, I'm fine general! I'll call back in ten... make that twenty!"

"Stop running!" Paige growled, chasing him across the large suite, her own towel long since lost in the commotion.

"Gladly," Xander grinned, coming up short so that she ran right into him and he caught her up, cupping her ass as he lifter her toes off the ground.

"Oh!" She gasped, suddenly right up against him with his hardness poking into her belly. "I guess you didn't forget anything..."

"Nope." He grinned, "Just remembered some stuff I didn't know I knew... like... this."

He ran his hands along her spine, using the Maro techniques to transfer some of his own chi into her nerve endings. She gasped in shock, practically melting in his hands right then, her head falling across his shoulders as she panted.

"Oh damn, X! This is better than a show."

Paige suddenly went beet red, head snapping up and around as she saw Faith lounging back on the bed, watching them. "Oh God."


"Oh hell no, X!" She grinned, "I'm enjoying the show too damn much. Besides, I'm hot as hell, and I don't think you want me doing one of the Marines out there."

"Like they'd touch such obvious Jailbait." Paige replied snarkily.

"Hudson might." Xander said, thinking about it.

"You're killing the mood here." Paige growled.

Xander smirked, glancing down, "Depends on what you call mood. Kicking her out will take a few minutes..."

"Don't you dare," Paige groaned, "She'd only kick the door in again."

"Damn right," Faith smirked, patting the bed. "Why don't you move it over to the bed... the view is better over here."

Xander glanced down between Paige and himself, "The view is fine here."

"I meant MY view!"

Chapter 26

Faith smirked, sitting back and enjoying herself as Xander and Paige did their best to ignore her. Not that she was going to let them get away with that, mind you, but for the moment she was willing to enjoy the show.

X had learned a lot of flexibility over the years, she noted, and had certainly learned a lot of technique too. As they got into doing their thing, Faith unbuckled her belt and dipped her hand into her pants as she settled back and watched Paige and Xander get really into each other.

They were puffing and panting, well along, when a buzz erupted from Xander's Comm again and he groaned as he reached for it.

"Don't you dare!" Paige growled, stroking down on him as he attached it to his jaw.

"Uhhh.... yeah?" He grunted out, pushing up as he grasped her hips to pull her down to him. "Dawn? What? Huh? No..... oooooohhhhhh gooooddddd."

Paige grinned wickedly at him and Faith gasped as she rubbed a little harder, noting that they weren't planning stopping this time.

"No...." He said with impressive control, "I can honestly say that I'm not."

"Not what?" Paige whispered, eyes gleaming.

"What?" Xander stiffened, drawing a coo of pleasure from Paige as he tried to sit up, only to be pushed back down as he planted her hands on his chest.

"Don't even think about it." She growled, keeping him pinned.

"Ohhhhh.... Paige...." Xander groaned out, then looked shocked. "I... I mean... wait... no Dawn..."

Faith grinned, hearing Dawn shriek in the background, and she got up and moved over toward the entwined pair.

"Dawn, can we talk about this later?" Xander asked, running his hands along Paige's jaw as the dark haired witch dipped down to catch his lips. "I promise, I won't make you eight years old... yes... yess... Oh God..."

Faith smirked as Paige started rocking on him again, sucking slowly on her middle and index fingers as she stealthily moved up behind Paige, then pulled them out with a sucking sound that somehow got missed in the commotion, then she dipped her hand down and pushed.

"AYIEEEEE!" Paige squealed, head snapping upright as her eyes opened wide in shock.

Xander groaned on the bed, and Faith reached around to pluck the comm off his jaw, "Hey D? Faith.... Yeah, look, everything's cool but X can't talk right now."

"You BITCH!" Paige screamed while she squirmed around, "Get your fingers out of...!"

Xander stared up at the ceiling, a silly look on his face, "Well... this is one of the strangest situations I've every been in. And that's saying something."

"You just keep the superslut on her side of the bed," Paige muttered darkly, "Or I'll orb her somewhere very cold."

Faith smirked, leaning across Xander's chest, "Aw, you can't say you didn't enjoy that just a little bit."

Paige slapped the hand back, "Keep your hands to yourself, Faith! I'm not gonna be goosed by you again."

Xander snickered.

"That's not funny!" Paige slapped his chest.

"Maybe, but it was fun as hell when you started wiggling like that," Xander smirked, causing Paige to blush.

"Yeah, well you try getting her fingers stuck up your..."

"No. That's ok, I believe you..." Xander said hurridly, then he frowned slightly. "Faith... was that Dawn screeching when you took the Comm from me?"

Faith shrugged, "Naw. I think that was Bee actually."

"Buffy!?" Xander half sat up, "What the??"

Faith shrugged, "I think B walked in while I was telling little D what you were doing to Paige with your..."

"Oh God!" Xander collapsed back, "Buffy's gonna kill me!"

"What for?" Paige asked, bemused.

"Contributing to the delinquency of her little sister!?" Xander growled. "Not that Dawn is actually younger than Buffy, but still..."

"Hey X...?" Faith frowned, interrupting him.


"Didn't Merl say that most of the groups didn't make it to Avalon?"

"Yeah..." Xander frowned too, and Paige propped herself up on her elbows.

"How the hell did Dawn knew what happened then?" Faith asked suddenly.

"Uh...." Xander said, "Hummmm.... Good question."

"What are you two talking about?" Paige asked.

"Little D, how'd she..."

"Faith," Xander cut her off, "Paige... just let it drop. I'll check it out, alright?"

"If you say so..." Faith said, rolling off the bed and sighing, "Weird shit though."

"Wierder than you in bed with us? I don't think so," Paige grumbled as she reached for her blouse.

"No, weird is the fact that this morning I was dating someone else," Xander said, stretching. "I really hate time travel."

The Comm buzzed again and he sighed as he plucked it up again, "Yeah? Hello General. How's the radar looking? Alright, cool..."

Paige and Faith shared tired looks as Xander sat up, crawling out of bed and grabbing for his clothes as he talked.

Faith shot her a kiss, and Paige scowled back, "You just keep your distance, Slayer."

"You know you loved it." Faith smirked.

Xander ignored the sniping behind him as he got dressed, "No, I have Apone's unit here with me. Looks like the assault team made it through, fully shielded. How many were inside Avalon's shields? I see..."

He sighed, "Not too many then. Has merlin tracked them down? Did we lose anyone in the integration?"

He sighed, pulling on his combat blacksuit and sizing it in. "Well that's something anyway. Alright, I'll talk with you shortly, General... Merlin?"

Merlin came on the channel a moment after Grey disconnected.

"Is my Hammerhead still in LA?" Xander had to ask, "Or... It is? Alright, I'll pick it up and head back to Avalon in a few hours. I'll talk face to face then."

He signed off, noting that Paige was getting dressed, while Faith was simply rebuckling her pants. The Slayer hadn't bothered stripping down for her bit of fun, something Xander was grateful for actually. Though, to be honest, Faith was starting to look like she did when he first met her.

Damned hot, in other words.

"So?" Faith asked, smirking, "Everything cool?"

"We've got damage control to do," Xander replied, "But... yeah, I think we lucked out."

"Copacetic." Faith grinned, buckling her belt.

"I've got to transport my Hammerhead back to Avalon, can I leave you two alone, or will you tear up my suite?"

"I'm cool if the wicked wiccan is," Faith smirked.

Paige rolled her eyes, "As long as she keeps her hands to herself."

Xander rubbed his nose, hanging his cross and life stone over his neck, then opened the door.

"Big man!"

"El hombre macho!"

Gunny Apone just laughed slowly while sucking on his cigar as Xander sighed and pushed through the group hanging around the outer rooms. "Get a life, guys. Better yet, go get laid. You just helped save the world."

"That an order, Commander?" Apone grinned.

"Fuck yes."

Xander's head whirled, he was still having trouble keeping all the things straight in his head. While he'd been with Paige, things had seemed fairly clear, especially since the truth was he had been in serious need of getting laid himself. After leaving, though, stray thoughts filtered in, conflicting messages.

He could remember breaking up with Natalie quite distinctly, but he could also remember planning a little tension relief with her for after the mission too. Now that it was over, he was feeling like he'd cheated on her, and that sucked.

He pushed it aside, though, for the moment he had some other things to deal with. Once he had things one their way to being straightened out, then he'd take some time to meditate on the conflicting memories. Get himself straightened out too.

At the studio he found Herc on a break, so he wasn't going to get in trouble for interrupting the shoot this time. Alex was hanging with Jason, and she gave him a cool look, which really bugged Xan, but at least half of him understood it.

"Hey Kev," He said, walking up.

Kevin Sorbo grinned up at Xander, "Hey Xan. How'd things go?"

Xander had to close his eyes to remember what Kevin was referring to. After a moment he remembered, there had been a demon incursion in Los Angeles through the sewers. That victory had been what he and Paige were celebrating when Faith kicked down the door.

"We dealt with it."

"Great, great! I've got just the idea for you, Xan," Kevin grinned.

"No! Whatever it is, no!"

Kevin grinned slyly, "Now Xander, you know you owe me a favor for keeping Dylan from breaking your nose."

"Natalie is the one who talked her down, damn it!" Xander snapped automatically, barely remembering the incident until he'd spoke.

"I don't even want you on set this time," Kevin said soothingly.

Xander sighed, "What is it this time?"

"Well I've been thinking about a new series after The Legendary Journeys are over," Kevin Sorbo grinned, "I'm thinking a science fiction series next... here's the brief."

Xander took it, looking at the paper, "Funding? Well sure... I can do that... Wait... You want one of the... I can't give you that! What would you want..."

He yelped as he reached the promo page for the proposed series.

"Space : Above and WHAT!? Are you insane!? I can't loan you a Hammerhead!!"

The End


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