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Chapter Notes:

Thomas Wayne and the Delons - Tragedy


They were singing,
"Bye-Bye, Miss American Pie."
Drove my Chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
singin’, "This’ll be the day that I die."


– Don McLean (American Pie)

=/=



Two shuttles left the Temporal Integrity Commission. They were transporting the candidates. For sure, this could have been done via Transporter. There was, after all, practically one on every street corner, in most advanced cities and towns. Fancy hotels and even some shopping malls had their own Transporter.

But shuttles were easier for getting the candidates to the initial jump off coordinates. So long as the pilots kept their view screens off – and they were instructed to only put them on in the case of a truly dire emergency – the candidates would not know that they had spent the better part of the day just beyond the galactic barrier. Then they would be escorted to another set of coordinates, and then another. Partly, this was to continue to maintain security, but another piece of it was an attempt to gauge candidate interest and impressions.

One shuttle went along fine. Tom Grant, the military man, sat near Sheilagh the computer whiz, and checked her out as she stared into space. Greg Shaw drifted off for a short nap. Alice Trent sat with Polly Porter and tentatively asked her a few questions and tried not to act too star struck. Teresa Marquez and Elston McCoy played a game of Scrabble against each other, using their PADDs.

But things were different on the other shuttle.

HD Avery drummed his fingers on the side of the shuttle, “Can’t you turn on the view screen, even once? Just put up a fake picture of Wyoming or something? Please? It’s getting close in here.”

“Hey, just think of some pretty place or another,” Crystal Sherwood suggested, “Yanno, Rick asked me about the late 1950s. I wonder what that was all about.”

“Who?” asked Carol Tilson.

“Oh, he’s a guy; he’s one of my hair clients,” Crystal said, “He got me this interview. Though I have no idea why – I feel like I’m not in anyone’s league here.”

“I’m sure you have your talents,” Rajesh Kumar assured her.

“It’s gotta be some mission,” Dan Beauchaine said, “Well, it probably is.”

“We probably shouldn’t read too much into that,” drawled Helen Walker, her accent betraying an origin on either of the Carolinas or Titania, which had been originally settled by people from the Carolinas, “Say, did you ever think that scarf would cause such a fuss?”

“Not for a moment,” Marisol Castillo answered, “It’s just something I grabbed this morning. I figure, if a scarf can be changed, so can any of us.”

And that was the last thing she said, as the shuttle rocked. Then there was the slightest of jumps, barely on the edge of perception. It didn’t even register on the shuttle’s instruments.

The pilot, an Andorian, was screaming into the Comm. They landed, barely intact, on a small, hot planet. The shuttle began to burn, and HD about jumped out of his skin when he noticed Helen Walker slumped forward, “Hey!” he yelled in alarm.

Marisol put two fingers on the woman’s neck and then shook her head.

HD was in a bit of a panic, so the next events blurred together a bit in his memory. But he knew that there were a few tiny, soft clicks. Under virtually any circumstances – including that one – he would have no reason to, truly, pay heed to them. But he had an ear for music and tones and sounds and so the clicks registered with him, just the same.

They were mild, faint, possibly coming from outside of the shuttle, “Is this rock inhabited?” he yelled.

“No!” yelled back the pilot, “Now,” the pilot lowered her voice a bit, “everyone needs to stay inside. The atmosphere is loaded with benzene, and there aren’t enough masks to go around,” she put out the fire as she talked and then went back to the Comm.

The other shuttle finally answered, all crackly and staticky, “Beam out,” Was all that the other pilot said.

“Our Transporter is down,” Replied the Andorian pilot.

“A moment,” Was the response.

On the other shuttle, the pilot, who was Takret, began transporting his passengers to the predefined coordinates in order to make room. Once his passengers were all gone, he began beaming the other shuttle’s occupants aboard.

He’d gotten to all but three of them – HD Avery, the Andorian pilot and Helen Walker’s body – when the shuttle caught fire again as the tiny, benzene-soaked planet moved into its daylight. The pilot pushed Avery onto the Transporter pad first, and then joined. As for the shuttle, and Helen Walker’s corpse, they remained behind, and were swallowed by Berren One’s benzene-fueled flames.

=/=



Correct clothing obtained, Rick was walking back down the hallway and all set to head to 1959 when Carmen stopped him, “Hmm?” he asked.

“Take the Wells,” she commanded.

“Why? This is Pre-Warp, and there’s almost nothing flying around out there, at least not relatively speaking. Per normal protocols, I should be taking a time portal, yes?”

“Normally, yes,” she said, “But, just take the Wells.”

“You still haven’t told me why.”

“Richard, that way I know where the Wells is.”

“Ah.”

She tilted her head slightly – she also had an implanted communicator and said, “Oh. Huh, that’s rather unfortunate. Oh, no. That’s even worse. Never mind the equipment. Is anyone else hurt?” There was a pause, “Very well. We’ll see about notifying the next of kin. Calavicci out.”

“What happened?” he asked.

“One of the shuttles had engine trouble, and ended up making an emergency landing on Berren One.”

“And?”

“And we lost one of our candidates, a woman by the name of Helen Walker.”

“Whew, not even hired and already gone.”

“We – we still need for you to go through with the mission,” she said, “Can you do that?”

“Sure. I’m a professional,” Rick said, “You’ll, um, you’ll tell me what else is brewing when I get back, right?”

“You mean with my insisting on you taking the Wells?”

“For starters.”

“Perhaps,” she said, “I need to keep my cards close right now. Even if you, personally, consider that to be a bad idea.”

“I thought – you do trust me, dontcha, Carmen?”

“I do,” she said, and that wasn’t wholly untrue. “But like I said, I’ve got to exercise a little restraint right now. Don’t, uh, don’t take that personally.”

“No worries.”

=/=



Old man rhythm is in my shoes
No use t'sittin' and a'singin' the blues
So be my guest, you got nothin' to lose
Won't ya let me take you on a sea cruise?

Whoo-whee, whoo-whee baby
Whoo-whee, whoo-whee baby
Whoo-whee, whoo-whee baby
Won't ya let me take you on a sea cruise?


– Frankie Ford (Sea Cruise)



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