THREE HOURS LATER
"KA'PLAH! Nuq'neQ! QaShta' Nuq?"
"Um…" Mulder stared at the large Klingon who had intercepted him on his way to the live actors' talk.
"TeraQ naN jiH," Scully answered immediately. "tlh'ngaN?"
"Ah, the Terran speaks Klingon. Impressive. Ka'plaH to you, Terran," the Klingon said, and moved himself and his massive gear and bat'leth away from them.
Mulder stared at her, completely shocked.
She smiled at him. "Take your seat, Mulder. We won't be able to see the performance if we don't find a seat soon."
"You taught yourself Klingon?" He asked in disbelief.
"It seemed like something a lot of Trekkies knew, so I thought I'd learn the basics."
"Do you know any dirty words."
"Yes, but I'll never tell you what they mean," she said, trying to be serious but not entirely succeeding. "P'taQ."
"Hey, I know that one."
"Shh, they're starting."
The actors came out onto the stage, all smiling at the audience and the instant, roaring applause they got. Mulder leaned over to Scully when the applause masked their conversation and said, "I think I may have a lead."
"We'll talk about it after the performance," Scully said.
"We may need an Internet connection."
"I have one at my apartment, and we can get back into this convention with the wristbands."
"I'd rather one of us stay here and the other go back to my apartment," he whispered.
She didn't seem to like that idea.
"I'll only be gone a little while. I need to collect some concrete evidence and print it out. Then I'll bring it back here and we can discuss it over dinner."
"You're suggesting that you leave and strand me at this convention?"
"You wouldn't know what to look for on the Internet."
"Try me," she hissed.
Mulder gave her a longing look, and Scully realized he must really have that tingling feeling that this is a promising lead, if he was willing to leave the giant Klingons and abundant Ferengi for Internet research. "Alright," she resigned. "But try to be back before 5."
"I'll be back before 4:30," he said with a smile. They sat back, and listened to the talk.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 13th, 1999
Mulder had been surfing for a while, collecting data and storing it away in his memory for later recollection. The Beamers were an interesting group. Established last year, they believed that the deadline for the time travelers to come and 'beam up' the worthy followers was September 18th, 1999.
They had a variety of beliefs that revolved around Star Trek, and were such an extensive and quickly growing group that they now spanned the entire United States. Mulder checked each headquarters location, and filed those away, as well. He printed off information he would need to show Scully and then continued looking on the web.
As rush hour neared, he realized he had better get on the road if he wanted to be back to the convention center before 4:30, as he had promised Scully. He headed out the door, keys in hand, and locked his door before walking toward the elevator. As soon as he opened the doors, something reached out and smacked into him. He didn't feel himself fall, and nothing hurt. But he couldn't see…couldn't feel anything…and a giant flash of blue engulfed him. A strange sound played in the background…a sound he recognized. Then all receded into a deathly silent black.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 13th, 1999
Scully sighed as she listened to two Trekkies debating whether the Klingons or Romulans had better Birds of Prey. Where was Mulder? Why had he ditched her, again? Again? And here, of all places. She could speak a little Klingon, sure, but that didn't beat the sex-deprived Ferengi away from her. Or the pimple-ridden teenage boys dressed in Starfleet uniforms much too big for their slender forms, who seemed to think her TOS outfit was the most interesting thing at the convention. Go look at the green woman, please, and leave me alone, she thought.
She pulled her cell phone out, finally resigning to the fact that Mulder had probably lost track of time, and was sitting, mesmerized, in front of his computer while he looked at 'proof' of some genetic mutant or otherwise absurd explanation for the disappearances. The phone rang several times, before his voice mail came on. I swear, Mulder, if you've left your phone in the other room where you can't hear it… "Mulder, it's me. When you get this, call me back. I'm stuck at this convention without a car. You said you'd be back a half hour ago. Please call me back." She hung up, and looked at the ceiling.
If he didn't call back soon, she would have to go rent a cab and check to see if he was alright. She felt a twinge of worry, her sixth sense telling her that everything was not alright, that Mulder had not just forgotten to bring his phone into the family room from the bedroom, and that she needed to get over there immediately. But she realized this was probably just her overactive imagination.
She made her way to the autograph table, where she was instructed to buy several autographs for Mulder while he was at his apartment. After what seemed like an eternity of waiting in line, having geeks peer down her wide-necked Starfleet uniform curiously, politely greeting the actors and feigning excitement, and finally getting out of line, Scully was pissed. Where the hell was Mulder? She pulled out her cell phone and dialed him again, and got the voice mail.
This time, her message wasn't as patient as the last one. "Mulder, I'm starting to get worried. You're over an hour late, and I'm still stranded here without a car. I got your autographs, and I'm waiting for you to get back. If you don't call in the next ten minutes, I'm calling a cab and coming to your apartment." She hung up.
Ten minutes went by. A little girl dressed as a Klingon clung to her mother's hand as they walked toward the convention center's doors, exiting for the evening. A seeing-eye-dog in a Starfleet uniform led a blind Trekkie past her, straight toward an action figure stand. A man in a Ghost-buster's suit came in the front door, said something to the security checkpoint guard, looked extremely disappointed, and exited. But Scully's cell phone never rang.
She dialed the cab, and was at Mulder's apartment not long after. She rode the elevator in anticipation, anxiety stabbing at her heart. What if something had happened to him? That feeling that something was terribly wrong just got stronger. She approached his apartment, and her stomach did a flip when she saw the front door open. Mulder never left his door open. Immediately assuming the worst, she drew her weapon awkwardly from her Starfleet Uniform and entered the apartment. But there was no sign of forced entry. No sign of a struggle. No sign of Mulder.
She searched everywhere. And then, with shaky hands, she called Skinner. "Sir…it's Scully. Mulder's been kidnapped."
Mulder's eyes snapped open, and he sat upright. He was laying on a cot, one of many in an extremely large room. He examined his surroundings, and decided almost instantly that he was in an underground bunker. Reaching behind him for his compact weapon, he found it was gone along with his cell phone and wallet. No chance of reaching Scully.
I had to have taken a hit. Why else would I have been out? he thought, but he didn't feel injured. In fact, he felt perfectly fine. He got up, checking the door to the room every few seconds to make sure he was alone. Then he walked over to the entrance, occupied a corner out of sight from the outside, and listened for people. He found them. Actually, what he found were high-pitched, happy voices. Children.
He walked out of the room carefully, making sure to position himself in such a way that allowed him to fight if he needed to. He was still in his Starfleet uniform, and in perfect condition, which made him think these people meant no harm. But they had kidnapped him, so they weren't exactly friendly.
He was approached almost immediately upon exiting, but the bearded man in a Starfleet uniform who walked over to him had his hands out of his pockets, and showed no signs of threatening him. "Captain Mulder," the man said with a smile, "I'm Admiral Flint. Welcome aboard." He extended a hand to Mulder, who made no move to take it. Then he let it drop.
"What am I doing here?" Mulder demanded. "Where am I?"
"You're underground, Mr. Mulder, awaiting lift off with the others"
Mulder looked around, but couldn't see the source of the children's laughter. It was at a bad angle, around a corner. "What have you done to the kids?"
"The Ensigns are absolutely fine, and are relaxing."
It was then that Mulder noticed who else was in this bunker. People dressed in Starfleet Uniforms passed them, at that moment, all apparently security. They were carrying toy phasers and jogging in formation.
"Don't mind them, they're just drilling," Flint told Mulder. "You're welcome to relax with the others. Keep in mind you are the only Captain here, and so you may not want to get too friendly with your subordinates. They're all playing training games on the ship's computers."
"This is an underground bunker," Mulder started, attempting to keep his anger in check but not entirely succeeding, "not a ship. Those are toys you're carrying around," he indicated the man's tricorder and phaser at his belt, "you're not an Admiral, this isn't Star Trek, and I'm an agent with the FBI. I can assure you, you're in a large amount of trouble with the federal government for kidnapping and detaining an agent. So I suggest you do what's best for your case and for the rest of the Beamers, and let me go."
The man's eyes lit up when Mulder mentioned the word 'Beamer'. Flint grinned, and said, "So you know who we are! But you clearly don't believe. Strange…we did research on you that suggested you would. We mostly recruit people new to Star Trek, because they are easy to convince, but we recruited you for your expertise, and your open mind. Captain Mulder, we are in possession of a transporter. That's how we've been recruiting people-"
"You mean kidnapping innocent children, and brainwashing them. Let me see them."
"First you want to go, now you want to socialize with the crew. You're an unusual captain, Mr. Mulder. Please, follow me," Flint said. He led the way around the corner and into a rather large common room in the underground bunker. All the missing children were there, as well as the couple, seemingly relaxed and unfazed by the fact that they had been kidnapped. The children were playing video games on an unusually-shaped computer console, resembling those from Star Trek but clearly constructed in the present. Some of the children were seated on the floor, playing 3D Chess. The couple was seated on the couch, their arms around each other as they happily watched a holovideo on a 3D projector. The projector was top-of-the-line, and had to cost over $3,000. Mulder had seen these in government catalogs, but had never seen one in person. However the Beamers got their resources, they had quite a lot of them.
Mulder approached the children, saw that they were perfectly healthy but clearly brainwashed, and then turned back to the 'admiral'. The man smiled and regarded his 'guests'. "We have a full facility here on the Tartus. This is the common room, and I can give you a tour of the rest of the ship. There's a bridge, of course, but new arrivals are not permitted to access it until we're sure you won't try to thwart our mission."
"And what would that be?"
"To leave Earth, and have the Enterprise beam our humble ship into its cargo bay, and then take off for the future."
Mulder just stared at the man. "You're joking."
"No, in fact, I'm quite serious. Why don't you believe in the existence of other life in the galaxy, Captain? Your file indicated that you would."
"You have a file on me?"
"I have a file on all prospective applicants. The viewers of the television show Star Trek are all open-minded individuals who would love to escape the confines of this planet, and explore the final frontier."
Mulder was through arguing with the man. He was clearly insane. His best bet now was to use psychology to get himself, and the other captives, out of here. "I suppose you have evidence to support your conclusion that the Enterprise is coming."
"Yes, I do, Captain."
"And I suppose you want me to believe you have this without showing me?"
"The evidence isn't on the ship. It's all around us. Your very own conspiracy, Captain, that you fight to stop within your government."
Mulder frowned. "Alright," he said. "I admit that I believe in the existence of extraterrestrials, but I'm still not seeing the connection to Star Trek."
"In 1966, Star Trek premiered on television. People loved it, but they canceled it after three years. It didn't come back for nearly a decade, in the form of movies, and then finally in the form of another series in 1987. Do you realize that there was a government order issued to cancel Star Trek, Captain?"
"No, I wasn't," Mulder said. He had never looked into the matter, and he doubted very much that there was such an order. But he wasn't about to argue with the man now. It was impossible to win, and he needed to just get out.
"There was, and its re-introduction into the system was devoid of the subliminal messages scattered around the Original Series. You probably don't know this, but it was instilling the belief in young Trekkies that extraterrestrials exist, that the Enterprise is real, and that those who believe will be beamed up eventually."
"You have evidence of these subliminal messages."
"Yes, just watch the Original Series," the man said simply.
For the moment, Mulder didn't argue. Instead, he nodded. "Alright, so they cancelled it and then brought it back without the subliminal messages. Who was sending the messages in the first place?"
"The Enterprise. They told their story to Gene Roddenberry, who put it in a form the public could understand. The show was a stroke of genius, but it wasn't Roddenberry's genius. It was simply regurgitation of the original message Captain Kirk had sent him. Visitors from Earth's future have come to take the believers, for the purpose of scientific and anthropologic study."
"And you go willingly."
"All new Trekkies would go willingly, once convinced that this is true! It's just that children are more easily convinced, and people such as the Hermenez's, who are already believers, just need an extra push to believe in the Beamers' true mission."
"You need to be a believer to be Beamed?"
"No, the Enterprise can choose to beam you at any time, but you need to be a believer to earn a place on the crew, Captain. We've given honorary ranks to those of us who join. The children are automatically Ensigns, and will grow in rank as they train. The Hermenez's are Lieutenants. You are a Captain by your own choice, and I am an Admiral."
Mulder wanted to hit the man for his nonchalant answers, and outrageous claims. But even more, he wanted to throw him in jail for kidnapping. These children were innocent, and had been taken from their parents, brainwashed, and forced to stay in an underground bunker. Flint was clearly insane, as were his followers. This looked to Mulder to be a full-fledged cult, and likely very dangerous. Though he hadn't seen any weapons yet, they had the capabilities of kidnapping. "So what if I don't want to go?" Mulder dared.
"Then you will likely be taken, and thrown in the brig. For now, that is the only solution I see for you, if you aren't willing to stay in the Common Room and socialize with the others."
"How about just letting me go?"
"There is too great of chance that you would attempt to thwart our escape from the confines of Earth's gravity. We'll only use impulse for atomsphereic travel, of course, and so a well-aimed hit from a missile could easily destroy the Tartus. You are the only one who knows our plans, so we'll keep you here. I'm sorry for the inconvenience, Captain. I know you have a partner you'd rather be with right now."
"Let me stay in the Common Room. I promise I won't cause any trouble," Mulder tried.
Flint chuckled. "You think I'm a fool, Captain. It's quite clear. You think I'm delusional and insane, and you promise not to cause me any trouble. Well, I'm sorry, but I wasn't born Trelaga IV."
Mulder didn't catch that reference. But he could guess what he meant by it. When the man called for 'Lieutenant Young', a woman about twenty-nine years old came running out of the security drill formation. She held her phaser in her hand. "Yes, Sir?" She asked.
"Take Captain Mulder to the Brig and make him comfortable. He'll be spending the rest of his stay there." The children looked frightened, and the admiral regarded them. "Don't worry, Captain Mulder isn't in trouble. It's for his own safety. Keep training, Ensigns, it'll be time before you know it."
Mulder felt a toy phaser pressed up against his back, and Lieutenant Young said, "It's fully charged, and set on the highest stun setting. Please don't make me carry you."
He wanted to laugh at the thought of the petite woman, smaller than Scully, carrying him. Once outside the common room, Mulder pulled his compact weapon out of the back of his pants, where he had carefully stowed it while talking to Admiral Flint. He pointed it at the woman, and said, "You're going to take me to the surface, no arguments. I know that toy you have is loaded with nothing more but batteries, but this gun has bullets, and they hurt a little more than a phaser burn."
The threat did nothing to faze her. She already had her phaser trained on Mulder, and without a smile, she pulled the trigger. A stream of red-orange light flowed through the corridor and knocked Mulder's weapon out of his hand. Then she pointed it at his head. "It's real, Captain," Young said. "Now move."
Mulder was astonished. How had they gotten a hold of weapons that advanced? And was it possible…at all possible…that they might just be telling the truth?