Chapter 14 - Power and Control

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Too much time on my hands

Too much time on my hands

Too much time on my hands

-- Styx (Too Much Time on my Hands)

=/\=

The airlock opened between the Defiant and the Flux Capacitor. Empress Hoshi smiled her biggest smile. "Ritchie!" she exclaimed.

And then she saw the fellow who emerged, "You're not Ritchie Daniels," she complained.

"Uh, no," he said, "my name is Milton Walker." He looked her up and down. The years had not been kind, but now he had a chance at least. It had been a long time – too long. "I am from his era, though. And that ship is a time ship. If we get acquainted I could, perhaps, show you how to use it."

"Then perhaps we should get acquainted," she said, coming closer. She glared at her two eldest sons. "Get back to your posts."

"Does Aidan still have the Bridge?" Jun asked.

"Yes!" she snapped, then turned to Milton, "Martin, is it?"

"Milton."

"I've always loved that name. Paradise Lost, right?" she smiled and beckoned at him to follow her. "Let's talk in my quarters. It's quieter there."

=/\=

At home, Helen changed and then got into bed to watch a few hours on the viewer. Her unseen passenger slipped away and traveled out along an arm of our barred spiral galaxy. It was good to be back in the universe which vibrated on a twenty-one centimeter radiation band, but the entity was a little disoriented as to time and place.

It had been through timeline changes before – that part was not foreign to it. But the huge temporal displacement was unnerving to its many sentient cells.

Plus, the universe had changed, for everything had moved forward just under 920 years. The stars, planets, pulsars, black holes and nebulae had all shifted a bit. It surveyed its altered domain and found it to be more than a little bit interesting.

It finally ended up heading to a small, benzene-soaked planet that had no other inhabitants and would be a good place to sit and think for a while. It was near the galactic barrier, too, a fact that was most appealing, for the entity was a bit, shall we say, homesick.

For it was not from the Milky Way galaxy at all but, rather the Triangulum galaxy. And near the galactic boundary, near a ship called the USS Saint Eligius, and not too far from another, larger ship, called the USS Adrenaline, there was that little uninhabited world. It was called Berren One.

=/\=

"This is gonna be a dirty business. I don't see any way around it," Tom said.

"I feel like my talents are being wasted," Marisol complained.

"Well, then talk to Carmen next time if ya'll don't like the assignment," Tom snapped, "but in the meantime, once we get to Earth, we gotta cap a methane gas flow and make sure the pressure builds up. This should lead to Deepwater Horizon exploding all over again."

"How do you propose to get in there?" Dan asked.

"We pose as inspectors," Tom replied.

"We'll need good credentials. This is post-9/11; they'll be checking IDs carefully," Dan stated.

"Right," Tom said, "Y'know, to be inspectors, we probably need to be less casually dressed. Can you head back to the replicator, Marisol, and get us some more, I dunno, authoritarian clothing?" She gave him a bit of a bored look so he added, "Please?"

She got up and did as asked, and then busied herself changing in the little bathroom. "I realize this is probably dull for her," Tom said, "but really, she's gotta be more professional about these things. We got a job to do. We need to just do it."

"What do you think of her?" Dan asked.

"That's outta left field, Beauchaine."

"Just askin'."

"I got a girl. You know this," Tom said. That brought his worry right back to the fore. He truly, honestly, hoped that Eleanor would be somehow restored by the time he got back.

"I said, Grant, that I'm only askin' 'cause I want to, yanno, make a move!" Dan repeated as he flew the ship.

"Oh. Well, go ahead, I guess." He got up. "Here, I'll give you the means." As Marisol returned to the piloting area, he passed her and went into the bedroom to change and leave them alone together.

=/\=

"So tell me, Milton, what brings you to my, uh, neck of the woods?" Hoshi asked.

"I've had a few issues with the other side of the pond," he admitted.

"You a bit of an outlaw?" she purred, "I find them rather ... romantic."

"Let's just say that there are certain rules that I didn't feel like following," he said. No sense in telling her he'd been a monk, for gosh's sake! "I prefer to make my own rules."

"That's one of the perks of power. You get to set the agenda."

"Power is rather intoxicating," he said, "as is control. But neither are as intoxicating as –"

There was a communications chime.

Angrily, the Empress answered it. "What the hell do you want? I am busy."

"Ma, we're picking up some transmissions from Lafa II," Jun reported.

"So?"

"So they're about contraband starship parts. You were right. Can't tell yet if the main manufacturing is done here, but some of the stuff is definitely coming from here."

"On my way," she said, and closed the link. She turned to Milton. "We'll pick this back up later. In the meantime, come to the Bridge and you can watch me subjugate some inferiors."

=/\=

"What's going on?" Marisol asked. "You know we aren't supposed to be spending time together if we can help it. It's not good for the Perf – our friends."

"It's okay, I told him I wanted to ask you out," Dan replied.

She glared at him. "He's a pain. It would probably be a good use of our time to just off him. I had instructions – did you know about them? – to see to it that Daniels met his end."

"But he didn't," Dan steered. "Rounding 2080 and switching to spatial, cloaked flight."

"It's proven easier to keep him around – at least for now. But it would be easy. This drilling platform is out to sea. It's a simple matter to entomb a body inside the equipment. Pressure, oil fumes, water, then eventually fire and smoke? It would be a simple matter." She smiled craftily.

"You really mean this."

"Of course I do. Have you forgotten what your real job is, Mister Beauchaine? Or are you too busy being chummy? Keep focused. You can have only one master."

=/\=

In 3110, they were still sitting together, still stalemated, when the alarms went off. "Damn!" Carmen swore. "We're not finished yet."

=/\=

Now, I'm a jet-fuel genius

I can solve the world's problems without even trying

I got dozens of friends, and the fun never ends

That is, as long as I'm buying

Is it any wonder I'm not the President?

Is it any wonder I'm null and void?

-- Styx (Too Much Time on my Hands)    

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