Chapter 10 - Days Of Future Present--And Accounted For!
Mildred Potter was one of the smartest women you could ever hope to meet. She was the full equal, and then some, of her husband, Colonel Sherman T. Potter. She had told him to help the kids invest in those new laundromats, and it had worked out beautifully. She had told him not to let his old buddies at the Pentagon commandeer the 4077th's 1st reunion for their purposes; The disaster that occurred in Tokyo almost made her regret being right. Ironically, their grandchildren all wanted "Gojira" toys the next Christmas. She had also told him not to trust Dorian Taylor. This time, when the imposter posing as her husband came home in his place, she did regret being right. Mildred made a vow never to rub this in, if only she could get her husband back.
"You okay, Mildred?"
"Oh, fine, honeysuckle! However is Soon-Lee doing? The poor thing up and around, yet?"
"Now, Mildred! I told you that's classified! Don't ask again!"
A number of things were clues to the engaging Mrs. Potter, that this man was a fake. One thing she noted was simple presence. Sherman commanded respect; This man demanded it, as though he didn't often get it. For another, if something was truly classified, her husband simply didn't even mention it to her. From the instant this fraud brought up classified as an excuse for poor Soon-Lee's condition, she knew her little town was turning into something out of a Firestone Mystery Theatre Radio-Play.
The best clue was that Sherman hated being called "HoneySuckle". Hated it with a vengeance. She now knew that Soon-Lee was in terrible danger, as was her husband. But what could she do, and how could she prove anything? Then it came to her to seek out the other person who had been deprived of their spouse : Max Klinger. Right now, though, she wasn't very fond of Max, for so readily signing his wife into a psych-ward, no matter how odd her behavior. Her low opinion of Klinger was shared, though, by Klinger himself.
"Okay, Max, let's review. You know that stuff Doctor Taylor gave you made you smarter, stronger, etc. Why, though, did it turn you into a prize chump? Specifically, the Doc's prize chump?"
Having put the children to bed, Max Klinger was talking to himself-again. He felt 1 inch tall for having put "Soon-Lee" - in reality the time-switched Keiko O'Brien - in the care of a woman he no longer trusted.
"All of a sudden, I'm all hands. No wonder Soon-Lee turned away from me! Nobody just likes to be grabbed, but I'm grabbin'. Worse, I feel like Max Klinger's drifting away! I'm so far removed from who I was, that I signed my wife away on almost no say-so! Worse, she admits telling Father Mulcahy her weird story, but not Doc Taylor, who lets it pass without comment. Easy Math = Dorrie listenin' in where she oughtn't! Jeez, what a stupe! I mean, Radar would have seen right through that malarkey! Now, the Doc won't even let me see her, and the Colonel - if that is him - is backing her up, with his eyes going bloodshot every so often! So, bottom line : My wife says she's from the future, my psychiatrist is a mad scientist in the present, and my CO, if I'm right, is a mean character out of the past!"
Max then noticed a man standing in his house's front doorway. He wondered how much of his lonely monologue had been overheard.
"Can I help you, pal?"
"Uh, yes. I'm--looking for a Max Klinger?"
"Oh, boy! What bill did I forget to pay now? Wait-since that genetic enhancement junk, I don't forget anything anymore----except not to mention it."
The man's eyes were wide as saucers, and his face drained of color.
"GENETIC ENHANCEMENT?! Someone boosted your DNA?"
"Yeah, yeah-DNA! THAT'S what Doc Taylor called it, when she gave me that stuff! Waitaminute- how'd you know about it-for that matter, who the hell are you?"
"Max-I'm-I'm not supposed to tell you this, but if Immunita is involved, then I have no choice, I need your....."
"IMMUNITA! Those Bums!? Oh, boy, Doc Taylor's been gladhanding everyone! Great! Just great! It all makes sense! They did to me like they did to Hawkeye and...I've thrown in with the people who killed Colonel Blake! Perfect record, Max!"
"Max! Please listen! The woman you believe to be your wife is in fact MY wife! My name is Miles O'Brien, and we are both from the 24th century, and that's where Soon-Lee is - safe and sound. Believe me, I know how this sounds. Wait, here's a picture of us and our kids."
At that, Miles pulled out a small holo-matrix, which issued forth a holo-graphic portrait of Miles, Keiko, Molly, and the new baby. Behind them were the children's godparents, Worf and Kira. Max looked at it, completely stunned. O'Brien had thought about using his phaser as proof, but figured that a gentler touch was called for.
He would have liked to have found another way to do this, without telling Max Klinger who he really was. But two things complicated that. One was that, instead of the real Soon-Lee, Constable Odo was their 5th passenger through time, so no simple switch was possible. Why this happened, no one was sure - no one but the Prophets, of course. The 2nd thing was that the presence of Immunita - the underpinning of both the Eugenics Wars and the human-alien hybrid colonization effort of the early 21st Century - meant that this situation was no longer simple snatch 'n' grab.
"Well either you're legit, or I'm dreaming! There's no way you can fake this--this-I can't call it a photo, can I? So she IS this "Keiko"! But how is it my wife and your wife are identical twins? C'mon, Miles! In for a penny..."
"In for a pound, I know. Ah, Captain Sisko's going to have a cow, but he will anyway, when he hears about Immunita. Alright, Max, here it is, straight. Keiko is Soon-Lee's direct descendant. Your wife's distinctive features repeat about 5 times in the next 450 years, that we know of."
"Oh, I get it! So, Keiko is my wife's great-great ad astra granddaughter. Anyone else I know related to your wife, cause' there's something not quite clicking here? I'm smarter, now, but I'm missing something--what is it?"
Miles added, "Well, your daughter Maxine is her next most traceable ancestor, if that helps. Max--why are you buying what I'm selling right off, picture or no?"
"Oh, that. Listen, Miles, once you've seen a 200-foot lizard destroy Tokyo, been chased by a playful Highlander looking to cut your head off with his sword, and been visited by a ghost, time-travel just starts to make sense!"
"Uh--Ok! What isn't clicking, Max, because I can..."
"Nah, I gotta get this myself. So, if both Soon-Lee and Maxine are your wife's ancestors, then, hey, so am I! Wow, that's terrific! Keiko is my multi-granddaughter, too, which means..."
Max's face grew ashen, then pale, and altogether quite sickly.
"Awww, no! I tried to put the moves on my own great-grandaughter! I saw her...undressed! I grabbed her..tried to slip...oh, My God! I'm a sleazeball! In prison, guys like me are lower than snitches! Bad enough I tried to cheat on my wife, but I have to act out The Fall Of The House Of Usher to do it! They'll have to take my kids away! I'm a danger to them-to all kids! Oh, Max, howdja sink so low? Don't answer that."
Miles tried to understand Max's angst, but it was so tied up in 20th century views on sexuality, it was hard to even begin.
"Max, did anything happen between you and my wife?"
"No. Not for lack of my trying. Geez, it all makes sense. Her accent, the way she moved - but I wanted her to be Soon-Lee. Miles, punch me!"
"Why, if nothing happened?"
"Because, I was scamming for a glimpse, every time she got dressed. Whatever I could see, whenever I could see it. I even watched her, while she was showering! I'll bet you weren't gawking at my wife's birthday suit!"
Miles had to laugh, at that.
"One thing's for damned sure, Max! We're family! Now for the hard part. O'Brien to Sisko! Sir, we are facing a situation - Temporal Prime Directive Addenum 5."
Max looked over at Miles.
"Great Walkie-Talkie! So small, too! Hey, if you don't mind, what's its range?"
"Oh, this is a low-power model. Somewhere round past Ottawa, the Northern Lights simply kill the reception."
"Er, uh, eee, Doncha just hate that?"
Not knowing that O'Brien had hit paydirt right at Max Klinger's house, Julian Bashir headed towards General Pershing Veterans Hospital. He was surprised to find that the legends were true, that 20th Century air really did taste different. The air on 24th Century Earth was clean, to be sure, but it had been scrubbed clean. This was pure to begin with. Bashir noted an unused loading bay in back of the hospital, and a woman playing racquetball against its cemented back wall. She was quite good.
Dorian Taylor had given herself one of the strongest doses of the heady brew that brought about genetic enhancement. The meteors taken from the site of the 4077th had been a godsend. Unlike those taken from the Siberian meteor strike of 1908, they contained no actual living creatures of extraterrestrial origin. In effect, Immunita had an edge over its allies and sponsors at the Consortium. The Consortium had the greater finds - the aliens themselves. But Immunita had the less volatile, more readily manipulated alien genetic material found in the Korean Sky-Stones.
Uncaring about her observer, Taylor continued to bounce the ball in harder, wider, arcs, her racquet seeming to spark as she did. She remembered Immunita's origins, born from the plague-ridden countrysides of post-World War Two Europe. With extreme poverty and extreme filth came disease. In a trend that would carry throughout the century, some diseases began to show signs of resistance to anti-biotics.
While this never panned out, worries about this potential problem combined with fears of bacteriological warfare led to a joint effort between the U.S. government and the pharmaceutical industry called Project : Immunita. Its goal shifted quickly from the mere creation of stronger anti-biotics to helping enhance the human immune system itself. In late 1950, the leaders of the Immunita project were approached by members of a Consortium which counted among its members General Bartford Hamilton Steele the 3rd. After this, Immunita's base of operations was shifted to war-torn Korea, near the medical unit where the genetic material was recovered.
There, that unit's Chief Surgeon and Head Nurse were subjected to the strongest dosages ever attempted. That this was done without their knowledge bothered no one at Immunita. While all other unwitting recipents died, those two were bumped very far up the long ladder of evolution. As the preparations were made to capture and dissect these two, Immunita learned who was holding the leash. The Consortium wanted these two subjects let alone, for their own purposes. So it was that Immunita had to make do with hair and other samples surreptiously taken from Captain Pierce and Major Houlihan.
Studying these, though, they gained information that enabled the reproduction of those same effects. Though no longer able to produce superhumans, Immunita now was able to create superior humans. These people would have abilities would reach the upper human boundaries, although not vastly exceed them like the future Mr. and Mrs. Pierce.
Dorian Taylor had been there every step of the way, and had been her own test subject, as well. She wondered why she didn't have the personality detachment that Max and some others complained of; She didn't have enough insight to realize that one must first have a personality in order to lose touch with it. Keiko O'Brien and Sherman Potter, both prisoners in her psych ward, could have told her this, though it's doubtful she would have listened. It was never her strong suit.
Intrigued and entranced by her racquetball efforts, Julian Bashir walked up to Doctor Taylor.
"Hello. I'm Doctor Julian Bashir. I was---watching you play. You're very good."
"I'm Dorian Taylor, staff psychologist here at 'General General', and Yes, I am good at this. Are you?"
"Have you a spare racket?"
"Then, by all means."
"By ANY and all means!"
Since Bashir's enhancements were more carefully directed, he had the edge in speed, strength, and stamina. But he did not have Taylor's hyper-competitive edge, her desire, even need, to win. As a result, they were evenly matched. The poor ball never stood a chance, as the impromptu, makeshift tournament more and more took on the trappings of a Klingon mating ritual. For all this, though, even Gowron might have found things a trifle intense.
Neither one gave any ground. Taylor was pleased to find any activity that could engage her for that long, during the genetic brew's long incubation period. Bashir, on the other hand, was simply in love. Blurs to any who might look, the two Doctors simultaneously caught the ball with the edge of their rackets, smashing it into the wall beyond at unclockable speeds. The ball hit the wall, taking a chunk out of it, while being cleaved in two itself. Sweaty, the Doctors threw their rackets aside. Bashir threw Dorrie Taylor's head back, and kissed her. She then looked up at him.
"Doctor Bashir, my car has a large, wide, comfortable back seat!"
"Doctor Taylor, it had better! We may find that we have need of it!"
"Oh, we will...Wanna Play Doctor, Doctor?"
By the time all was done, Bashir had finally found a woman who could keep up with him---and Dorrie Taylor needed a new rear windshield--the old one looked like it had been kicked out, quite suddenly.
For all this, though, Taylor further sedated the sleeping Bashir, and put him in her psych ward, where a horrified Keiko had to pretend to notice neither him nor Colonel Potter. There were lots of Immunita bases throughout the world, and Taylor mistook Bashir for an intra - company spy. Also, she was intrigued as to why his enhancements were of a smoother nature than her own. Plus, he offered a hell of a way to pass a few hours. When Bashir was secured, and Taylor had left, Keiko looked over at her friend.
"Great job, Julian! So much for the cavalry riding in!"
To Keiko's shock, Bashir's eyes suddenly opened and he spoke to her.
"Oh, Keiko! Do have some faith! I recognized Doctor Taylor's name from history class, and wanted to see what she was up to! It would seem--she's up to you!"
"I forgot. You can shake most sedatives off. But we've got to help Max!"
"Max Klinger? Don't worry! Kira believes that, as soon as we have you, Soon-Lee will return to her proper time and place, as well!"
"That's not what I meant! She accelerated him, Julian! Max is suffering from personality detachment, and Taylor intends for me-or Soon-Lee-to go the same route."
With that, Julian angrily undid his bonds and got up.
"Do you mean to tell me that she has been genetically enhancing people against their will - in 1956? I--never knew Immunita had that kind of material, that early on! It explains quite a bit about the twin conspiracies in any event. Blast! Now we have to stay til we know!"
"What about the Temporal Prime Directive?"
"Keiko, there are addendums to the TPD. #5 states that, in a time-anomaly or like situation, if information regarding the Eugenics Wars should readily present itself, it is to be pursued with all vigor. You see, the people who enhanced me -not to mention my misfit friends- were less scientists and more cultists, adherents of Khan Singh's beliefs. They may one day yet pose a greater threat than any external one might. But we must find out all we can. If it won't violate the TPD, I'll try and help Klinger. And given what I know of his fashion sense, he needs help!"
"You're merely jealous, Julian! Some men just don't look good in a dress!"
Smiling, Bashir undid Keiko's bonds, so she could gather her leg strength, for later. He would then meet up with their spy inside the hospital.
"Who's in there?"
Looking through various files, the spy was on the verge of being caught. The person who appeared to be Sherman Potter would not be fooled by a quick dissapearance. He then barged in. The spy turned his back to him.
"It's just me, Colonel!"
"Oh, Father! Don't work too late, now!"
General Steele, who was impersonating Colonel Potter at the behest of Dorrie Taylor, was afraid of being found out by Potter's friends. He had gone insane, after his Cigarrette-loving son had forced him out of the Consortium. Taylor and Immunita had raised him up, but treated him like a puppet. Then, they had found him. Refugees from another time, another place, he took them in, and, in secret, they gave him the power to make everybody pay. Struggling with their dialect, he called them the Power Wraiths. By any name, they were the deadliest enemies of the Prophets Of Bajor, and they had a plan to hit those beings where they lived. They had made him one other promise - never to leave him behind.
But the phony Potter didn't know that he had been talking to a phony Mulcahy. Constable Odo quickly lost that shape and went back into the air vents, attempting to ascertain why Nerys's Prophets might've brought him along for the ride. He found himself absently wishing Vic were there. The holographic host had a way of figuring things like this out.
Meanwhile, Kira and Captain Sisko approached the Potter household, and knocked on the door. Mildred Potter answered. There was something in her face that comforted them both - especially Benjamin.
"Yes, may I help you?"
"Mrs. Potter, I am Captain Benjamin Sisko. I met your husband in Korea, and just wanted to say hello, while I was in town."
Mildred, who had decided against seeing Max Klinger, took in the name, and then said the last thing either Bajoran or Terran expected.
"Father Mulcahy! The Emissary Is Here!"
SPACE STATION DEEP SPACE NINE
"What do you mean, they don't believe us? Didn't you tell them that this whole Tuttle deal was a big joke? The man doesn't exist!"
Worf stared at Hawkeye Pierece. He had no answer as to why the Dominion would not accept the evidence he had transmitted to them, that the "great hero", Captain Jonathan Tuttle, was a great fraud.
"It was your irresponsibility that caused this, Pierce! Do not complain that it got out of hand! You do not have the right! We teeter on the edge of bloody war, which will cost the lives of soldiers AND healers both! All for a needless prank!"
Pierce drew in his breath, and spoke.
"Then let me take responsibility! Tell them I'm Tuttle, and send me over. They'll kill me, and be done with it!"
Pierce's friends were too stunned to speak. Worf, however was not.
"You are a brave man, Doctor. But I dare not send any of you over, especially you! You see, in the year 2003, Hawkeye Pierce will save the entire world!"
To which Winchester immediately replied: "Don't let it go to your head, Pierce! It's only 1 world!"