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Story Notes: Written for the Forums Weekly Free Writes, revised for the September challenge and kindly Beta checked by Little Black Dog.

Chapter Notes: Backpfeifengesicht is a German word for a face in need of a slap.

Ariane NX-04

“Captain, long-range sensors have detected a Class ‘M’ planetoid in a nearby system. I can’t detect any signs of civilization at this range, but I’m getting one weird power signature,” said Lieutenant James Comsox from the science station.

“Weird, how Lieutenant?” asked Captain Douglas Gorrim.

“Not sure if I can explain it Captain, but if I’m reading the sensors correctly, it seems to be affecting sub-space and the fabric time of time itself somehow,” answered James.

“A timely-wibberly thing. Here let me see,” said Douglas, who did not entirely believe his officer’s statement.

Douglas stood up from the captain’s chair and walked over to the science station. He looked into the viewer.

“Hmm, that is indeed wibberly weird. Looks like something best avoided to me, Lieutenant,” said Douglas.

“I would agree with you Captain, but the affected areas seem to be growing quite quickly,” said James

“In other words, it might soon affect the coalition shipping lanes in this sector?” asked Douglas.

“Affirmative, Captain. For all we know it might be some kind of Romulan super weapon just for that purpose,” said James.

“We best investigate then. Ensign Dubrovnik, send a coded message to sector control to explain our diversion from patrol. Lieutenant Hertford, set new course and engage at best possible warp, till we reach the edge of the phenomenon,” ordered Douglas.

“Yes, Captain,” said Cassandra Hertford from the helm station.

“Message sent, Captain,” confirmed Ensign Savio Dubrovnik from the communications station.

The deck plates vibrated slightly under the bridge crew’s feet as the ship banked and increased its warp speed. It took the Ariane less than twenty minutes to reach the edge of the mysterious phenomenon.

“Well Mister Comsox, we’re here now. Are you getting any more useful data from the sensors?” asked Douglas from the captain’s chair.

James was bent over the scanner viewer, trying to make sense of the readings. “Sorry Captain, I can’t add anything meaningful to my earlier report…no wait, just coming in now. I can detect an artificial construction on the northern continent of the third world, which seems to be the ground zero for the mysterious phenomenon. Now that is weird, stellar dating suggests the object is minus 250 years old, give or take a decade,” reported James.

“Another temporal cold war goodie, oh joy. It’s been a while since the cabal has tried anything on us. Mister Comsox, can we take the ship into the phenomenon without harm?” asked Douglas.

“Hard to say. In theory I don’t see why not,” answered James.

“That’s because you’re not a warp engineer,” said Commander Yu Ziyl as he stepped out of the lift.

“You’ve something to add Commander Ziyl?” asked Douglas.

“Yes, Captain. The warp engine isn’t reacting well to close proximity of that wave. We need to hold the Ariane back or the warp drive could explode,” said Yu.

“Then Lieutenant Hertford should hold the Ariane outside that thing. Mister Comsox, send a probe and see if we could traverse it by shuttle pod,” said Douglas.

“Acknowledged, Captain,” said James and Cassandra, almost in unison.

Douglas watched as a probe shot across the view screen and headed into the mysterious phenomenon.

“Reports are coming in now Captain. They would suggest we can traverse it, but it is an odd time, almost like inside a cabal helix base,” said James.

“Okay, grab your kit Mister Comsox, and you Mister Ziyl. I’ll see you in the shuttle bay. Let’s go,” said Douglas as he went to stand. Commander Ziyl interrupted him.

“Captain, with a thousand apologizes and my highest respect, I believe my place at this time is in Main Engineering to look after the warp engine and prevent it from exploding. Might I humbly suggest you take Colonel Helga Von Detrucker instead?” said Yu.

Douglas looked his chief engineer in the eye. “Well, if you don’t think you can leave your engine to another ship engineer?” asked Douglas.

“Not this time Captain,” replied Yu.

“Very well then. Mister Dubrovnik, please have Colonel Von Detrucker meet me and Mister Comsox in the shuttle bay,” said Douglas as he strode towards the lift.

James joined him and they both stepped through the lift doors into somewhere unexpected. “What the blazes? Captain, this isn’t the lift,” said James.

“No Lieutenant, this looks like one of the rooms of the Temporal Integrity Commission,” said Douglas.

“The what commission? How did we get here, Captain?” asked James, very confused by his new surroundings.

Suddenly the Captain and James’s scanners began to play an irritating tune.

“The Temporal Integrity Commission or T.I.C. for short, are the people who keep temporal terrorist and malcontents from damaging history,” said a female voice from behind them.

Both men turned round and came face to face with a short woman with blond hair and an over-accessorized jumpsuit.

“Hello, I’m here on behalf of the T.I.C. to tell you to turn back. The anomaly you’ve detected is a pollution of history. We will deal with it, just carry on with your normal patrol business and forget it. There is nothing you should see or learn at this point in history,” said the lady.

“Sorry, but I don’t take orders from mysterious women, who claim to be members of the T.I.C.,” said Douglas.

“My name has no relevance to you and just telling you could ruin history, so be good little Feds and go back to your patrol,” she said.

“Feds?” asked James.

“Are you going to do what I asked or not?” said the lady with a degree of veiled threat.

“Well, how can we refuse a pretty lady with such a pretty Backpfeifengesicht, right, James?” said Douglas.

“Yes, Captain,” said James. James turned his head to the captain and gave him a wink of understanding that the lady didn’t see.

“Good, I’ll return…” started the lady but the two officers pulled out their phase pistol and opened fire on her, rudely interrupting her.

“Glad you remembered that code word James,” said Douglas.

“Always thought it was appropriate for temporal enemies; they do have faces in need of a slap,” answered James.

Under the concentrated pistol fire the woman’s shape fuzzed and then changed into a giant caterpillar. It looked very angry.

“A Chilo!” said Douglas with shock, before adding, “Kill it, Lieutenant!” Both officers switched the pistols from stun to kill.

“Vermin, I shall destroy you for that. You cannot disrupt our plans with your crude weapons,” the Chilo thought at them with pure venom.

“What’s Mr. Angry Caterpillar’s problem, Captain?” asked James Comsox.

“That we exist, as far as I can tell,” answered Douglas.

The Chilo suddenly disappeared.

“Blast, I forgot about that, scatter to a wall, Lieutenant,” said Douglas as he dived for a wall to put his back up against.

Sadly the warning came too late for James and the Chilo reappeared behind him and engulfed him in an evil bear hug.

“Aargh!!” screamed James.

Douglas fired his phase pistol at the Chilo again, but it seemed to have no effect on the monstrous caterpillar. “Damn amour, hang on Lieutenant,” called Douglas as he looked round for inspiration to hurt the creature.

“One less vermin,” the creature suddenly thought. Then it dropped James’s broken body to the floor.

“You will pay for that, Monster,” said Douglas. The creature vanished. Douglas threw himself across the room towards the door, hoping that it would open. It didn’t and Douglas banged himself hard against the door.

The Chilo suddenly reappeared, right in front of him. As the monstrous caterpillar towered over the downed captain it thought in a very loud and very clear way at Douglas. “Now you will die, Vermin!”

As Douglas looked up, he thought, yes Chilo are indeed a load of Backpfeifengesicht.


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