- Text Size +

Chapter Notes:

Tommy James and the Shondells - Crystal Blue Persuasion

Oh, what a feelin's just come over me
Love can move a mountain, make a blind man see
Everybody sing it now come on let's go see
Deep in the valley now, we ought to be free

- The Rascals (People Got to be Free)


HD stared at his PADD after a few hours had elapsed, “Man, oh man, there’s too much to look at!” he whined.

“Well, yeah. There’s yottabytes of data,” Kevin said, “More, except I’m not so sure there’s a name for such a large unit of information.”

“I wish Otra were here. I’m just not that much of a researcher,” HD said.

“Well, we adapt,” Carmen said, “I suspect Crystal would have been singing your song not one year ago. And now she’s embraced it. Just, I’ll tell you what I do. I free associate, trying to find connections among the changes. So tell me what the known changes are.”

“First contact was late, and then it got a lot later,” he said.

“And that first change was due to what?” Carmen asked.

“Probably the first pariotric change. Uh, that was Prague, right?”

“Probably,” Carmen said, “So whatever the other two changes are, they made it considerably later. We also know there are two misplaced American Presidents and the Worldwide Web doesn’t arise on time.”

“Right,” HD said, “and there being no Reagan - because of no Iron Curtain in 1980 - means no satellites or not enough satellites, so no Worldwide Web in, uh, when, Sheilagh?”


“That probably put off the development of Warp Drive a bit,” Deirdre said, “Without the Worldwide Web, there’s less collaboration.”

“Aha! That’s it!” Sheilagh exclaimed, clicking around furiously, “Oh, it’s obscure. I wonder how - or why - the other side thought to do this.”

“Thought to do what?” Tom asked.

“ARCNET,” Sheilagh replied.

“That supposed to mean something to us?” Kevin asked.

“It’s an early Local Area Network. It got replaced by Ethernet and Wi-Fi, that kinda thing,” Levi said, looking up for a second.

“I had no idea you knew such things,” Sheilagh said, with some renewed respect for Levi.

“I know lots of things,” he replied.


“Okay, I know you’re probably sick of them by now, but you’re gonna wear penny loafers yet again,” Crystal said to Rick.

“Uh, it’s okay. Crystal, most of this stuff looks like what I wore in Italy in 1960. Are you sure it’s right?”

“I am certain,” she said, “You’re heading to a Soviet Bloc country. They didn’t exactly keep up so well with the fashions.”

“Ah, okay. Do I get a hat again?”

“Lemme check.”


“You know,” Boris said to Marisol after they had left Polly in the recovery area, “until the timeline is fixed, I suspect I am a single man.”

“Oh?” she did her best to feign an enthusiasm at that, “I may have to go on a mission.”

“That’s true. In case you don’t, we will sleep here tonight, yes? Can I count on you to visit?”

“Uh, sure.”


“You’re certain it’s this ARCNET business?” Carmen asked, “If it was replaced by something else, wouldn’t that have repaired the damage, or at least made it less noticeable?”

“It looks like, with no market for this ARCNET, those replacements Sheilagh mentioned aren’t developed, either,” Kevin said, checking.

“Interesting - I suppose it wasn’t profitable. At least that’s what Von would say, if he were here,” Deirdre said.

“Maybe your musical, uh, thing, is also tied to some profit motive,” Tom offered.

“Well, I’ve got sales info. Let’s see what’s a top-selling album in the new reality,” HD started clicking, “Led Zeppelin IV, Sgt. Pepper, Tapestry, good, good, hey, it’s missing!”

“What’s missing?” Carmen asked.

Dark Side of the Moon,” HD said, “And, uh, Wish You Were Here, and Animals and The Wall, too,” he paused, “There’s no Final Cut, no Momentary Lapse of Reason, and no Division Bell. Ha!”

“And these are?” Sheilagh asked.

“Pink Floyd albums,” HD said, “It’s, uh, they’re a group. In ’73, they put out Dark Side of the Moon. It’s huge! It breaks all sorts of sales records until Thriller comes around. And Dark Side just keeps chugging along, year after year. It’s a top seller for longer than most things. And now it’s gone, so I’m guessing the band went bankrupt or broke up or something,” he said, “And so with no Dark Side of the Moon, those other albums were never made, either.”

“1973, then,” Carmen said, “When’s yours, Sheilagh?”


“All right. It looks like we’ve got our missions defined. Report to Crystal and let’s get started.”


Rick was walking out of Crystal’s work area when he saw Tom and HD approaching, “Grant, can I talk to you?”

“Uh, sure. Go on without me,” he said to HD, “Yes?”

“I talked to Eleanor. She, uh, she wants you to call her, yanno.”

“I did. And we made a date. But then the timeline got restored and she didn’t know anything about it. It, uh, that’s unnerving. I admit I didn’t try a second time.”

“No time like the present.”

“What if it happens again?”

“Grant, I will not let you hurt her. But, honestly, all ya gotta do is ask her again when the timeline’s restored.”


“1973, hmm,” Crystal said, looking over HD, “Your hair is a good length. The beard is almost perfect; it just needs to be a tad messier. Blue jeans, boots and a tee shirt,” she produced the items.

“This is kinda plain,” he said, upon looking at the tee, “Can I get something I woulda bought at a concert?”

“Sure. Uh, here,” The new tee had a silkscreened picture of Jimi Hendrix on it.

“Excellent!” he enthused, then dropped his voice a little, even though they were alone, “You, uh, you seem to understand me. And my, uh, needs, Crystal. After I get back from ’73, you wanna, uh …?”

She was about to answer when Sheilagh came in, “Oh, sorry, I can come back.”

“No, that’s all right,” Crystal answered, “The more the merrier!” Whew.


“Just call her, okay? Or I won’t hear the end of it,” Rick said.

“Uh, okay. Um, Rick, I, uh, I don’t need an audience.”

“Oh yeah, of course not,” he left, bound for the cafeteria.

Once he was gone, Tom tapped his left ear twice, “I’d like to speak with Eleanor Daniels, on Lafa II,” he drawled.

“That’s me.”

“I, uh, this is Thomas Grant,” he said. There was an uncomfortable pause, “I, uh, I’m sorry it took me so long to contact you. It, uh, I tried to, and then we changed things and you didn’t know, and ….”

“It’s all right.”

“But, well, it was lame of me and I shoulda tried again,” he said, “I, uh, that was a bad move on my part. I, I should have persisted.”

“Why, um, why didn’t you?” she asked. The question wasn’t a malicious one, just a bit of curiosity on her part.

“I don’t know,” he paused, “Actually, I do know. I was very concerned that I had blown it. It, it felt like I had missed my only shot.”

“Mister Grant,” he said, and her voice was low and soft; it was forgiving, “if there’s one thing that time travel should have taught you by now, it’s that you can have any number of shots, any species of chances.”

“Do I have a chance with ya’ll?”



Rick sat down in the cafeteria, a couple of slices of pizza on a plate in front of him. Three Calafan women came over - two were silver, and the other one was copper, “Yimiva,” he said to the copper one, “Yilta,” he said to the silver one with hair, “Yiria,” he said to the other silver one, who was bald, “did I get all those right? And, uh, won’t you sit down?”

“Sure,” said Yimiva, “And that was correct. We, uh, we saw the changes. It’s rather interesting, the Human-Calafan Alliance, eh?”

“The what?”

“Oh, did ya not see?” asked Yilta. Her Lafa V accent made her sound Irish, and the brogue was pleasant to the ear, “In this current wrinkle in the timeline, there is no United Federation of Planets. But our two species have a smaller, more direct alliance, you are part-Calafan. I take it your family is intact.”

“They are,” he said. He hadn’t known about the Federation never being formed, but that seemed to make sense, given that first contact had occurred so much later, and under less than friendly circumstances, “I, uh, I’ll be off to work it all out.”

“Good,” said Yiria, “Just make sure our two species stay friendly. We do so love humans,” Kevin and HD walked into the cafeteria - HD was already dressed for his mission. Almost immediately, Yiria and the other two began to flick their fingers.

“Who’s the good-looking guy?” Rick asked, well aware that the finger-flicking gesture was a kind of silent catcall.

“The part-Gorn fella,” Yilta said, sighing a little, “So sad! Brings out my nurturing side.”

Rick looked over. HD wasn’t exactly handsome, but he was a damned sight better-looking than Kevin, who weighed nearly a quarter of a metric ton. His sleeves were rolled up, which showed silvery-green scales, not as attractive as the copper or silver scrollwork on the arms of the three women sitting with him. Rick smiled to himself. Sometimes, there was just no accounting for Calafan taste.

HD came over, “I see you’re makin’ time with the honeys. Evenin’ ladies.”

“Who is that human on your shirt?” Yimiva asked.

“Ah, this is the guitar god Jimi Hendrix.”

“A god? Huh, we don’t wear Lo’s image,” Yiria said.


“Lo is one of their four gods. Uh, she’s a goddess, actually,” Rick said, finishing the last of his pizza and getting up, “I’d tell you more, but I gotta head to 1968.”

“Uh, all right. Lo, huh?” HD asked.

“Yes, Lo!” Yiria said, “She gave birth to our universe.”

“I bet that really hurt.”


Tom emerged from Crystal’s work area with longer hair than he had, perhaps, ever had - past his collar! He, too, was in jeans and boots, but he had a blue oxford shirt on over his tee.

He entered the cafeteria and sat down with HD and the Calafan women. HD barely recognized him, “Brother, you almost look hip.”

Tom smiled a little at that, “Almost?”


See that train over there?
That's the train of freedom
It's about to 'rrive any minute, now
You know it's been 'a long, long overdue
Look out 'cause it's a-comin' right on through

- The Rascals (People Got to be Free)

You must login (register) to review.