Time and Time Again

"Welcome aboard the Younger Brother Pear, Judge Olden," Doc says, wryly.

"How did we get here? What kind of devil lovin' magic are you using on me?" The Judge demands, angry and indignant.

"You fell into a hole in your own jacket pocket. If I were you I'd get back in there, pronto."

"What the hell kinda fairy-tale nonsense is that? Why are you here? What is this place?" The Judge refuses to look around and examine his situation, instead insisting that Doc bend to his will and explain everything for him.

Captain Daniels, however, is actively examining everything he can. Thunderhorse keeps a close eye on him as he moves slowly about the room, indulging his curiosities. "Is that the War for Independance?" he asks, pointing at the television.

Thunderhorse shakes his head. "No, it's the American Revolution."

Captain Daniels looks at him, confused, probably more-so by the translator than Thunderhorse's comment.

Doc deals with the Judge, playing off the old man's religious superstitions. "This is Purgatory. This ship sails the stars endlessly between Heaven and Earth, with the occasional stop at Hell. Now either you get back into the jacket, or we let you off at our leisure."

The Judge is visibly shaken by this. He doesn't want to believe it, but he can't help but fear that it's the truth. Just then, Captain Daniels touches the window and the shutters dissolve, revealing the stars and Earth beyond. Judge Olden turns as the Captain gasps. The Judge's jaw drops.

"Who...who are you?" the Judge asks.

"I'm Saint Peter, and now is not your time. Get back in the jacket."

The Judge stares at him, not moving. The Captain furrows his brows at him.

Doc rests his hand on his pistol. "Please. You don't have much time."

The Judge picks up his jacket and starts to put it on.

"No, no, just reach into the pocket as deep as you can," Doc corrects him.

The Judge obeys. He pulls the sleeve back off and turns the inner pocket out. He reaches into it and slips away. The jacket falls onto the floor.

Doc turns to Captain Daniels. "And you. You've got to return to your own time."

"My own time?" asks Captain Daniels.

"Uh, yes. It is not your time to be here in the afterlife. Get yourself back to Earth."

Captain Daniels moves slowly towards the coat. Doc picks it up off the floor and offers it to him. Daniels takes it from him, cautiously.

"Saint Peter, eh?" Captain Daniels is evidently not a religious man. Doc gets the feeling he's not going for it.

"Yeah. Now get going."

Captain Daniels examines the jacket carefully. He looks into the pocket. "Guess I'll see you later, Pete." He winks at Doc before reaching in and disappearing.

Doc wipes his brow and takes a seat. Thunderhorse sits back down, too, hypnotized once again by the TV.

Dr. Ritenrong calls in on the intercom. "Hey, I just got two intruder alerts. Did they show up?"

Doc calls back at the ceiling. "Yes, they showed up."

"Did you get them back in the jacket?"

"Sure did."

"Both of them?"




"In clearing the security alerts just now, I see we've still got a guest. He's in Room 7."

Doc and Thunderhorse turn to each other. Thunderhorse grabs his ax as Doc jumps up from the couch. They both run out into the hallway.

Dr. Ritenrong meets them at the elevator. He leads the way towards the room in question.

"I don't understand. I put them both in the jacket with plenty of time to spare. They should both be on the Chesapeake. How did this happen?" Doc asks.

"I don't know," Dr. Ritenrong responds. "It's entirely inexplicable. We've got to expect these kinds of things, you know."

They stop outside Room 7, where a hover sentry that wasn't there earlier is now stationed. Its tazer prongs extend in response to their presence. Dr. Ritenrong asks it for entry. It scans his retina with its single laser eye, beeps a gruff confirmation, and moves aside.

The door slides open. Captain Daniels is lying on the bed, reading a book. There's a stack of them next to his bed, along with several empty cups and plates.

"Well, this is an unexpected surprise. What brings y'all to my cozy little cabin?" He asks, sitting up.

"How did you get here?" Doc asks.

"What?" Captain Daniels asks.

"How did you get on this ship?" Doc asks again.

"Don't you remember?"

Doc looks at Dr. Ritenrong. Dr. Ritenrong shakes his head.

"You sent me back to the Chesapeake in the Judge's pocket. When we were there you didn't remember anything about our being here on the Di Li. When you left the Chesapeake, I jumped aboard the Pu right before you closed the bay doors. Then you torched the Chesapeake, remember? You were there. You put me in shackles and threw me in this room," Daniels explains.

"You've been here all this time?" Dr. Ritenrong asks.

"...yes. Did you forget about me?"

Doc looks at Ritenrong. He turns back to Daniels. "Excuse us, please." Doc orders the door shut again. In the hallway, he talks to the professor.

"What is going on? I thought we had to use a wormhole to change time-lines. How did this happen?"

"It must've been when we used the coffee cup. We arrived in a time-line where Captain Daniels escapes the Chesapeake. The us-es we passed arriving here must've captured him and locked him up."

They open the room door again.

"Do you know where you are?" Doc asks Captain Daniels.

"We're in orbit over Earth in a space ship called the Younger Brother Pear. It is a Multidimensional Astral Research Vessel. I'm not thick, you know. I can read, unlike horse brain over there, and I've had plenty of time to do so."

Thunderhorse snorts at the comment and grips his ax tightly. The hover sentry reacts to him, turning and readying tazers.

The Daniels is nonchalant. "Come on, shit-for-brains. I could use some damned exercise. I'm tired of sittin' around in here, so you right on and kill me if you want. I wish the rest of you would make up your damned minds about what yer gonna do with me."

Doc restrains Thunderhorse with his hand, holding him back from unleashing his viking rage. At the same time he orders the door closed again.

"What can we do with him?" Doc asks.

"I say we kill him," grunts Thunderhorse, pissed.

"Well, it's too late to send him back in the jacket again. Besides, he'd probably just escape again, and next time there might be two of them," Dr. Ritenrong says.

"Can we just drop him off back on Earth?" Doc asks.

"He knows too much, now. Did you see what he was reading? Military history and technical manuals. The Host must've brought them to him, since he's programmed to fulfill any reasonable request, even those made by prisoners. I guess I forgot to mention to him that books about the future are not reasonable requests."

"So what if Daniels knows about the future? What can he do?"

"Too much. What if he invents the Browning Automatic Rifle before the Civil War? Hell, he's got a grudge against Ohio, what if he uses what he's learned to take back the Toledo Strip? It's all too much to risk sending him back to Earth, at least in this era."

"So we kill him," Thunderhorse responds, intently. "We kill him and mash him and feed him to the horses. Then we will see who's brain is made of shit."

Dr. Ritenrong expands on this thought, or rather attempts to steer Thunderhorse away from his train of thought. "Or we keep him here, locked up indefinitely? Who knows, maybe he can be useful. We can't trust him now, of course, but maybe..."

Thunderhorse's train isn't budging. "Kill him."


ERR said...

Doc Bluff check 26(17+9) vs Olden Sense Motive 22(2+20). Doc Succeeds. XP+22
...vs Daniels 41 (16+25) failed. XP+4

Doc said...


Let him live. We are going to need all the free hands we can get. But keep an eye on him. Give him restricted access to the ship with a security bot escort, and start him in on some kind of training program. We'll see if he is worth the trouble.
"You got a first name Daniels?"

Meta comments- Did you ever come up with some kind of list as to what is in the hold marked "Archiological and entertainment supplies"? I just curious what we have.


ERR said...

I'll get to that, thanks for the reminder