Time Trek-chapter 13

When Astrid and Charlene reached the captain's quarters, Masters pressed his door buzzer.

"Enter" Kirk said.

They complied, Masters taking the lead. Kirk regarded them with interest for a moment. "What is on your minds, ladies?"

Astrid motioned for Masters to speak first. The lady engineer told him that everything was prepared for time travel if he wanted to go that route. Then, it was Astrid's turn.

"Captain…let me start out by saying that I'm not a Captain Christopher. I already knew all about you before the Guardian wrecked my car and…"

"You want to stay." He finished with a knowing smile.

"Yes, sir." She replied with relief.

"That's fine with me, Miss Keenan. You saved Masters' life. I have already given your circumstance some thought. I know how you feel about the totalitarian world you left behind. It would be against the Prime Directive to force you to go where you don't want to be. As a civilian, you are not governed by Starfleet regulations. However…wouldn't it be difficult for you to adjust to the twenty-third century, if we make it back?"

"Difficult, perhaps, but not impossible. I have grown to know and love this ship and its crew, having grown up watching you on television. You are all a part of me. I know what to expect."

"You do have other alternatives, you know."

"Are you trying to get rid of me, sir?" Astrid asked suspiciously.

"Not at all. My crew and I have grown quite fond of you. However, you are a civilian, with no technical training. What would you do in the twenty-third century?"

"Captain, I'm sure that there are people just like me in your century, which are of normal intelligence. I don't believe that everyone has to be a genius to live in your time. For example, take Harry Mudd. He seems to be a pretty normal guy, although a bit of a goofball."

Kirk smiled.

"Yes, I suppose you're right about that. We're still going to the Guardian planet to see if it has a way of getting us back home. Any objections to that?"

"No, sir. I'm just glad that you aren't going to force me to return to the late twenty-first century."

"I wouldn't dream of it."

Kirk, Spock and Keenan materialized on the barren surface of the Guardian planet. The famous time portal was right in front of where they were standing. Kirk addressed Astrid softly.

"Before we ask the Guardian anything, I would like to know what you want to do with your automobile. It's still in the cargo bay."

"I don't care, Captain. Give it to the Klingons for target practice, like they will be doing to that poor old 1978 Voyager probe, if you want. It will be no good to me wherever I decide to go. No offense to Scotty, but it's no longer in very good shape."

Kirk chuckled and Spock raised an eyebrow. Keenan looked back at the Guardian with interest. She wondered aloud why it was now intact.

"A QUESTION" it boomed. "SINCE BEFORE YOUR SUN BURNED HOT IN SPACE—"

"Yeah, yeah, we know. You have been awaiting a question." Keenan said. She turned to Kirk. "Forgive me, Captain, but I have heard this thing's spiel a hundred times. Guardian, can it. I was addressing Spock, not you."

Kirk grinned as Spock answered her query.

"I believe the reason that it is intact, Miss Keenan, is because it decided to do itself in centuries from now, either in your era or ours. We are five thousand years in the past, you know."

"Oh, of course. You're right, Mr. Spock. Captain, I think you wanted to ask the Guardian if it can help us get back to the twenty-third century without taxing the Enterprise engines."

"ASK AND I WILL ANSWER" The Guardian boomed again.

Kirk stepped forward, still with an amused smile on his face at her bravado when it came to this machine being.

As it turned out, Astrid found that the Guardian did not have the ability to bring her or anyone else back to the future, because in this time period, the future had not occurred yet. It was designed to scan all time, but could only bring people and objects into the past. However, it did appear on a lonely country road in the twenty-first century in order to end its existence to atone for the sin of murder. Was it involving itself with the future then? Astrid posed the question to Spock. The Vulcan hypothesized that perhaps when the Guardian decided to destroy itself; it was acting in the twenty-first century. In other words, the moment it decided to do itself in was the same moment Astrid was taking her fateful Sunday drive. That was a reasonable theory, considering the Guardian existed five thousand years before the event.

The Enterprise crew decided to use the slingshot effect and the controlled implosion interchangeably to get home. On the second try with the controlled implosion, something very strange happened. Astrid Keenan inexplicably vanished off the bridge right before their eyes in a flash of light.

"What happened to Keenan, Spock?"

"One can only speculate, Captain."

Astrid felt herself quickly fade from the Enterprise Bridge. She had the sensation of floating in nothingness for about two seconds. Her eyes were closed and she was terrified. Soon, she felt a floor beneath her feet and she was solid once more. Unnerved, she cautiously opened her eyes.

She found herself in a small chamber that looked like an old fashioned bank vault. She felt a small animal brush against her right leg and looked down. To her astonishment, it was a beautiful black cat with a diamond-studded collar. Then, she became aware of a man standing in the open doorway.

"Isis, you charmer." He picked the cat up and smiled at her. "Welcome back, Supervisor 152. Did you find out all you needed to know?"

She peered at him and suddenly realized who he was. She couldn't believe her eyes.

"Mr. Seven!" She gasped. "I'm no agent!"

The man smiled and offered her a hand out of the 'vault'. She accepted with some trepidation.

"I see you are still conditioned to believe you are Astrid Keenan of the twenty-first century."

"I am!"

"No, you aren't. Your real name is Amanda Rodgers. You're a Q in our employ."

"You're joking!" The girl responded as she was gently led into Seven's apartment. "That's impossible!"

"No, it's true. Astrid Keenan does not exist, and neither do her parents. We had to condition you so you would totally fit in as a latter day Star Trek fan in the late twenty-first century. You were on a secret information-gathering mission. Do you have the Enterprise floor plans?"

"Floor plans?" She echoed in puzzlement. "I don't understand. Where did you get the name 'Astrid Keenan'?"

"You chose the names yourself. Your first name was taken from your favorite childhood author of the Pippi Longstocking books. Your last name is actually a short stretch of road called Keenan Drive in a small northern Minnesota town."

Amanda was now starting to remember who she really was. Seven was right. The road she was traveling on in the late twenty-first century was once called Keenan Drive, a short stretch of highway that connected with Seventeenth Street and highways 11/71 in a small town on the Canadian border with Minnesota.

"The floor schematics, please." Seven requested again. "They are in your pocket."

"Oh, those." She reached into the pocket of her jeans and withdrew the crumpled piece of computer paper and handed it to him.

"Good. Now, how much did Mr. Roddenberry reveal about the real twenty-third century?"

"Nearly everything we saw in the television series was true, sir. No wonder you punished him by making him human and for making his show so good that it was blasted by lame-brained critics."

The Enterprise made it back to the twenty-third century in one piece, thanks to the Vulcan di-lithium crystals. The engines needed work badly, so they went to the nearest star system on impulse and assumed standard orbit around Wrigley's pleasure planet. Kirk authorized shore leave for some of his very stressed-out crew. As he settled down to record his captain's log, he heard a sultry voice coming from a speaker in his chair.

"Recording ship arrival…sweetheart. Did you miss me?"

Kirk's eyes widened. It was the ship's computer.

THE END