[USS Vanguard] The Dukes of Time (Away Team Group Post).

  • From: "Cynan" <kuhnahn@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "USS Vanguard" <ncv80221@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 20 Nov 2002 21:48:10 -0000

Location: Earth; San Francisco, 1990.
Subject: The Dukes of Time. 

OoC: O'kay. This post might not make a great deal of sense when you all
     it, and that's because it's been passed around each of the away
     members to add-in and change bits and bobs anywhere in it. It's
     a work of the group and no part is individual. Least that's my end
     vision! I'm hoping it made that and in a way, let us all be closer
as a
     SIMing community.

     Pardons for the urm, 'helping out' with Rea. I'm thinking if my
     (somewhat funky?) solution isn't wanted (as its not my NPC to kill
     off!), then it can be reversed anyway as when the timeline is
     out, it can just never have happened! :)

     Oh, and seeing how I've now read the full post I can defiantly say
     does make sense and I'm proud to have been apart of its production.
     my opinion, it's a job well done.

     Anyways, on with the post!

[San Francisco, Fisherman's Wharf, 1990]
Mandrake: "Right. So thats settled. Kieran you'll come with me, we'll
the diamond. Highwaij take Des and find the power supply. She'Ra and
you go for the circuit boards. Its too late to start off now and going
day to break into establishments would just be stupid. So tomorrow we
continue with the original mission, keeping an eye-out for the
and go back for them at night fall."
Des: "You know I think I can feel you Cynan."
Mandrake: "What!? Des!?"
Des: "I..."
E'thexx: "What do you mean, Des?"
Des: "I don't know. It's just that feeling I had before was, strange,
      now it's... I think it's you."
Mandrake: "Don't go feeling me too much now, Des.", he chuckled.
Khan: "Hmpf. See if I care!"

The other started laughing at that, maybe they knew she wasn't serious,
She'Ra felt better. A little happiness now was just the thing for the
but she knew what would come later. More work. More danger. More chances
something to go wrong. She'Ra just smiled slightly in the darkness and
looked in the direction that Cynan's voice came from. She then turned
to the others.

Highwaij: "Well, I think it's about time we got some rest."

The group agreed.

She'Ra sat down and stared into the sky. Everything was dark but there
something peaceful about the night sky of the nineties. Something
A part of her wished she could stay and take this in for the rest of her
life but knew that she wouldn't belong. She didn't belong and there was
way that Cynan would give up his life as a space cowboy and settle for
- not yet anyway. She growled deep into her throat and dismissed the

She'd just taken off her hat and set it aside ready to settle down when
heard a gasp and a sharp crack of a breaking twig from a near by bush.
group immediately stood and cast their gaze to where the disturbance had

come from. Two young boys stood and looked on, frozen with either shock,

fright, bewilderment or perhaps a combination, and then they ran.

Des: "We've been spotted!"

She'Ra: "This cannot be good."
Highwaij: "I'll go after them."
Darkwater: "And do what, exactly?"
Mandrake: "No.", he held up his hand and then lowered it looking
          sheepishly after realising no one could see the gesture that
          had made. "There's nothing we can about it now and they are
          children after all. Children with /very/ active imaginations."
Highwaij: "At the very least we should move camp."
Darkwater: "And remove all trace of this one..."

Minutes later and they were gone - resettled across the other side of
wharf. The night was long. It was a night of unsettlement. Each of them
knowing if they would be able to make it home or not, or even be able to
the parts necessary to even try, and then there was the added fact of
would-be 'UFO spotters' and what trouble that would bring with the new
For Kieran, however, sleep wouldn't come - the bridge was still there, 
across the bay, ponderous and looming in the pale light of the gibbous
He sat, hunched, atop a drum of some sort, arms wrapped about his knees
some time before making the decision: he'd come this far, albeit 
unwillingly... he might as well go the whole hog.
"I'll be back in a while." He said, resting a hand on Highwaij's
shoulder as 
he slipped away. "My watch starts at 4...". There wasn't a great deal 
Highwaij could do to stop him, without causing a scene, and Kieran was
and swallowed by the light mist before he had the chance to do much more

than turn.

She'Ra saw the way Kieran's body slumped as he left them. His shoulder's

tugged up to his ears and his hands stuffed into his pocket in a bulge.
wondered what was wron. He was unusually quiet. Not that he wasn't quiet

before, but this was eery. She was going to ask Highwaij where he was
but kept quiet and closed her eyes again.

[San Franciso, The Golden Gate Brige, 1990]
The streets of the city were still steep, the antique rails of the trams

still in use in this era, though not at this hour, and Kieran adopted a 
slightly hunched, slouching walk as he made his way towards the
Time was largely irrelevant at this sort of hour, the blank, identical
and minutes between nightfall and waking, the light wind swirling litter
detritus that was unheard of in his time. Any other city and Kieran
have been wide-eyed and staring, drinking in the sights and sounds and 
smells, revelling in the opportunity: but this was San Francisco. and
was here.
The bridge, when he reached it, was just as unattractive now as it
had been, a bulky, functional conglomeration of steel and petroleum 
byproducts, toxic paints and opportunities for widespread pollution: and

even then it largely failed to counter the congestion problems of the
The bridge itself, however, was a mere backdrop to the proceedings as he

slipped down the steep hill to stand on the pathway's beneath it, amidst
grass and stunted trees. He looked up, seeing the gantries that hung
the side of the bridge, the service walkways, but in his mind they were
longer orange, but gleaming white, and the two cadets were skipping
them at a rate of knots, challenging each other to go faster. He had
to warn them, tried to convince them that some dangers were foolish. and

then she slipped. He knew the mathematics, could work out the time it
her to fall in his head in a matter of moments, but it nevertheless took
an age of tumbling and flailing before she slammed into the turf like a 
stuffed toy, the sickening impact resounding over the empty park, and 
echoing back through the centuries to where he stood.

"Bronwynn." he muttered, quietly, walking slowly across the point where
happened. There was no evidence here no, of course, no small memorial,
carefully tended plot of flowers: that would not be instituted until it 
happened. But there was still the sense of tragedy, the dark, quiet, 
brooding misty night closing in beneath the uncaring, unfeeling,
damned bridge...

The next morning came and they tidied up as usual - leaving nothing
No markings, no equipment, no trace that they had ever been.
Unfortunately a 
line of civilians seemed to have formed around where there original
was, with cards such as, "from the people of Earth we welcome you!" and
live in peace". The two pesky boys were hanging around too. They must
told, and some must have believed after all.

She'Ra gasped as she saw all the people. The two boys she recognized
the night before were there grinning from ear to ear as though they had
carried out this divine mission.

She'Ra: "You've go to be kidding me!"

Cynan: "They think we're Gods."

Highwaij: "A pity they don't know the real you...."

Cynan: "and just what is that supposed the mean?"

Des: "Overactive imaginations huh?"

Kieran: "Let's just get out of here."

They all went of in the groups they were assigned, trying to find what
where suppose too. Kieran and Mandrake had to get a diamond, She'Ra and
circuit boards, while Desdemona and Highwaij needed to get a power
As all split up, Desdemona and Highwaij took off, they had no idea where
look as they slowly moved towards the bases and power generators they
to find something small but it had to give a lot of power.

[Power Station, 1990 - Gamma Team]
They started to look around and found an abandoned car, after a few
they managed to get it moving again as they wanted to drive away.

Desdemona called "Look what's in the back" she said. A few moments later
came up with a few uniforms and passes for the base they had just

"They look real, lets use them" Highwaij said. A few moments later they 
appeared in their uniforms. Desdemona appeared as a Colonel while
appeared as a Corporal.

"Looks like you're in command", Highwaij said and he jumped behind the 

After a few minutes they appeared at the airbase, the guard looked at
passes and let them in. They drove to one of the hangars where a few 
fighters stood in front of it. They walked in and looked around but
find a small power pack.

As they looked around they grabbed a small communications unit, but
it wasn't powerful enough to do the job, somehow Highwaij grabbed it and
it with him. After a few hours they left the base again and headed back
their own camp.

[Communications Facility, 1990 - Alpha Team]
Darkwater and Mandrake moved fast. Despite their 'differences', they
well together and didn't waste anytime, although it wasn't always easy
co-ordinate with someone you couldn't see directly.
After they had left the others, Mandrake had explained to Darkwater the 
other problem of the neutrino communicator becoming damaged during his 
transport 'landing'. It was a quick repair Darkwater had noted, and soon

fixed with a stop by the communications facility.
Mandrake: "I think I'd best contact the ship, don't you? At least advise

           them of the current situation and see if they have any
           alternative ideas."
Darkwater: "Sounds like  a sensible measure." He nodded, stepping away
            slightly to keep watch.
Mandrake: =^= "Away Team to Vanguard. Come in."

Static sounded over the communicator. It would have been a good time to 
share a worried look if they had known where each other was.
Mandrake: =^= "Mandrake to Vanguard. Hello!?"
Darkwater: "Perhaps they are just a little busy." He noted, wryly, with
            worried frown that completely escaped Mandrake.
Mandrake: "You'd hope so wouldn't you... listen. We continue as planned.
           sure everything will work out. Say nothing to the others."
Darkwater: "Ah. the 'Someone is watching over me' plan..." He muttered
            himself, as he followed along. "I hope they are... I must be
            a turn by now." 

[Museum, 1990 - Alpha Team]
The museum was a wonder to behold. The architecture and the lighting
made it 
truly stunning to the eye. It was a shame it was no longer standing in
24th Century.
"It might be a tricky getting in here.", pointed Darkwater.
"Why? You just turn here, hold this, and *click*, Bob's your uncle.", 
Mandrake said as the door opened.
"Now it's my turn." Darkwater noted, raising an eyebrow that accentuated
subtle hint of Vulcan features. "Where did an aviations officer learn
"It may or may not surprise you to know Kieran, but I wasn't always a
In fact piloting is more of a... dream, but anyway..."
As the two worked on the vault, cracking its many locks and removing
most of 
its counter measures, they engaged in idle chit-chat.
"You remember you pawned one of your pips?"
Mandrake: "Yeah?"
Darkwater: "Did you happen to notice those spectacles in the window that
            storekeeper put it next too?"
Mandrake: "I can't say I did. No."
Darkwater: "I was wondering if they could be the same ones that Dr.
           gave James Kirk, who then later pawned them during his
           here, four years ago."

Mandrake stopped what he was working on and cast his head to where he 
approximated Darkwater was.
Mandrake: "You think?"
Darkwater: "It's one of an infinite number of possibilities! It'd be a
            souvenir to take back if we have time."
Mandrake: "Heh. We'll see Kieran. We'll see.. hey I think I got it."

Just then as Mandrake edged open the door, all hell broke lose as the
started to sound. 
Darkwater: "I thought you knew what you were doing!?"
Mandrake: "Oops."

They quickly pulled open the volts doors and cut out the diamond from
constraints. It was lucky they had their cloaking suits, or the guards
surrounded the building during 5 minutes that proceeded would have
caught them.
"Well that was close", Darkwater said from across the block and around a

"I've had closer." Mandrake replied rubbing his stubble.
Darkwater: "You know. Do you think that stealing this diamond will have
            big effect on the future? Even though it was seemingly meant
            be taken as it already 'mysteriously' disappeared and all."
Mandrake: "Possibly. Just like treading on a small bug could."

"Ewwww" grose! She'Ra exclaimed.
"Whats up?" replied Jaav.
"I just trod on a bug!".

[USS Vanguard; Somewhere in Time]
The repairs to the Vorgon's shield were going as well as expected, but
weren't out of the woods yet. A small fluctuation in their shield grid
instance, could cause drastic effects.
"Fluctantion in the Vorgon's shields!", shouted DeAngelo.
=^= "DeAngelo to Zena, the Vorgon's shield grin needs attention fast!"
Elsewhere on the ship, Soman's assailant, Mr. Rea, disappeared.
[Military Base, 1990 - Beta Team]
Jaav put his head in his hand and turned round to see She'Ra leaning
a concrete support which broke up the security perimeter fence, flicking
the sole of her boot with a twig she had picked up. 
"You know, considering your Klingon heritage you do surprise me
She'Ra looked up and scowled, Jaav regretted the comment immediately and

turned back round, hoping she wouldn't punish him for it.  
She'Ra: "I'll make you pay later."
She'Ra grinned like a derange maniac and saw Jaav swallowed almost 
nervously. She smiled at that. 
"What do you make of the security guards?" Jaav asked quickly in an
to change the subject. 
The pair concentrated their gaze on the two guards, both accompanied by 
aggressive looking dogs, who were patrolling the rear entrance of a 
corporate computer research facility.  She'Ra produced a pair of
issue, covert operations Noculars and held them up to her eyes.

Jaav: "Where did you get those?"

She'Ra: "You don't wanna know..."
She continued looking. Then looked at Jaav.
"I can take them" She'Ra grinned.  
"I'm not so sure this is such a good idea"
"What could go wrong?", She'Ra reassured Jaav, "We knock them both out
a gentle phaser stun, break in, get the boards then get out"
"You make it sound so easy..."

She'Ra: "It is. Just don't get caught."

Jaav groaned into his hand and She'Ra patted him on the back. She didn't

feel as confident as she sounded but she would not let him know that. He

looked bad enough as it is.

Jaav turned round only to stand on the twig She'Ra had dropped moments 
earlier.  The small piece of wood snapped with a loud CRACK!  Jaav and 
She'Ra, instantly realising what would happen if they did not act
both ducked down to hide themselves form view.  She'Ra was just able to 
glimpse one of the guards heading towards them, the dog was obviously 
agitated, the other guard stayed back, but could just be seen using 
his radio unit.  
She gestured frantically towards a small hut which appeared to be the 
electrical substation link to the electrified fence several meters from 
them.  After a moment of confusion, Jaav, who had a better line of
aimed his phaser at the substation, increased the power setting and
the substation which was swallowed in a moderate explosion.  The guards
thrown into confusion by the diversion, one of them gingerly made their
over to investigate the damage the dogs shot off in panic.  The fire
was raised, but luckily the security alarm was left alone.  She'Ra
Jaav, and pulled him along with her in a stealthy sprint behind the
and all the activity into discrete entrance.  They hid behind a storage 
locker, and watched as the remaining handful of confused staff rushed
out of 
the complex into the yard to see what all the fuss was about.  
"I didn't mean for you to blow it up!!", She'Ra 'whispered' through
teeth, straining to control the volume of her voice. "Men always want to
things the hard way!"
"That's what I thought you meant!", Jaav exclaimed.
"I meant for you to make a RUN for the substation and hide behind it not
wipe it out!" 
"How was I supposed to know? It wasn't like we had an agreed plan, It
didn't it?" 

She'Ra took a few deep breaths and stared out at all the commotion as
ran out of the buildings. 

"We'll soon see.", She'Ra replied, considerably calmer than she had
now taking in her surroundings.  
She'Ra flipped out her Tricorder and made a few quick passes of the
"We havn't got a lot of time Jaav, scans show that thee building is
and the staff have assembled outside, but I doubt it will be long before

some sort of fire control service arrives soon.". There was a note of 
urgnecy in She'Ra's voice as she spoke.  
She'Ra then thought of something and crinched.
Jaav: "What is it?"

She'Ra: "Either the emergency crew comes or some smart aleck will find
         that it was a false klaxon and they call and go back in."
Quietly and elegantly, she embarked in a tip-toe sprint down the
keeping against the wall to avoid detection, she peeked round the
before moving out completely into the centre of a junction which split
the three.  She'Ra held her Tricorder up to each before making a quick 
"This way...I think the boards are located this way, lucky for us
there's an 
emergency exit nearby".  
Jaav: "You think?"

She'ra: "{shrugging} as I said before, What could go wrong?"

Jaav: "I hate it when people ask that question."

She'ra: "Why?"

Jaav: "Something always go wrong."

She'Ra and Jaav slipped into the room at the end of the corridor. The
had posessed an primitive security lock, which would have been now
for a tricorder or phaser to handle, but regardless had been left ajar
one of the fleeing researchers.  The room contained three large, tall
cabinets, each of which seemed to be refrigerated.  
"I'll watch the door, while you get the board...And hurry, I think 
somebody's coming!", She'Ra instructed. 
Jaav knelt down in front of one of the glass cabinets, opening the door 
carefully to reveal a rack of old fashioned printed circuit boards.  He 
accessed the schematic of the desired circuit board Kieran had prepared
began comparing it with the ones arranged in front of him.  
"It's hard to believe, these are at the fore-front of this era's
technology, are you sure removing one of these won't damage the 
timeline?",Jaav inquired, with no sense of urgency. 
"Look, we've been through this, Kieran thinks any negative impact will
made null by Henry Starlings contamination of the timeline in a decade
so. Have you found a match yet?", She'Ra asked impatiently. 
"Thats what worries me. He 'thinks', but yeah I think", he realised how 
ironic this was starting to sound, "so, most of the components are
Jaav turned the circuit bored round in his hand and glanced over it one
time before shoving it into a crudely fashioned carry pack.  
"Come on, people are re-entering this section!" She'Ra announced 
desperately, before once again grabbing Jaav and making a bolt for it
out of 
a nearby fire exit. 
The two Starfleet officers had long since slipped into the darkness
anyone at the complex realised their priority research was missing. 

[Rendezvous Point, 1990]
When the others got back, they all had their own stories to tell, but
was more funnier then seeing Kieran with his 'baby'.
E'thexx: "Congratulations, Kieran! I had no idea!", he said chuckling, 
         pointing to the diamond hidden away under his cloaking suit.
Darkwater: "I know." he nodded, in mock sadness, caressing the lump in
           jacket. "And they don't call, or write, they just go off and 
           leave you holding it.."
Highwaij: "You could name her after her father, Cynan."
She'Ra burst out laughing. She would have given anything to see the look
Cynan face. As she imagined it she began to laugh harder, holding her
Mandrake: "It's lucky I can't see you!"
Des: "You're both lucky I don't have my camera!"
Darkwater: "I really don't think Cynan..."
E'thexx: "O'kay funs over. Let's see what we can do about assembling

She'Ra: "{Mumbling} Party pooper!"

The group could tell something was wrong though with Des and Highwaij.
looked at them as Highwaij spoke. "Sorry people we failed", he said as
handed them the radio they found. Then he looked at the car and started

"What's wrong" they asked.

Highwaij pointed at the car. "We had one with us all the time, if we can

connect the battery of the car, we might make it" he said.
They all joined him in cheer and got to work...
Once the work had been completed, the communicators were synchronised. 
Unfortunately, every time they let out their 'heartbeat' signal to the 
neutrino communicator, communication between them was disrupted. Once it
set up, it required time for the diamond to charge, time for the
saturation to reach a high enough level, and they sat down to wait.
Toward the edge of the group, with a broad, pale sheet of paper
between his hands, Kieran made his final mission report, staring at the 
charismatic figure in the picture, arms aloft in victory.
"Here then, it seems, could be the final opportunity Earth had to stop
War III," he began quietly, turning the page, and reading the article
"The UN Assembly, after much deliberation last night, failed to
authorise an 
armed intervention in the rise to power of Khan Noonien Singh. Russia, 
adopting the veto seat of the former Soviet Union that it claims was 
essentially its own before the recent dissolution, vetoed the move to 
protect its own fragile economy and settled domestic and local unrest.
$4.4 billion arms agreement announced this morning between Russia,
and the Samarkand Khanate means that, despite the warnings from America,
United Kingdom and Australia, Khan now has access to nuclear, biological
chemical weapons, and a non-aggression treaty with his only significant
border: Russia.
Russia's own military are reported to be wary of the agreement, and even
diplomatic language of the spokesman for the Russian delegation in New
was more hopeful o f the 'Eugenic Nightmare's' good intentions than
Backed by military power, civil unrest, an as yet unidentified flow of 
currency and powerful unsettling factors within the governments of South

East Asia, Khan's influence in recent months has expanded to swallow up
former nations and republics of Korea, large swathes of China, Hong
Indonesia and New Guinea, and it is widely believed that his next target

will be the financially powerful state of Japan.
Should that expansion go unchecked, the world's economy would likely 
collapse, business confidence would be destroyed, and World War III
almost certainly follow. British Prime Minister Neil Kinnock, upon
the conference, appeared troubled, and had this to say: "History may
this meeting as the last failed attempt to save the world. Einstein
us World War IV would be fought with sticks and stones. we may be about
see that happen."
He folded the paper with a sigh, the image having been stored already,
he was intent on taking the broadsheet with him as he continued.
"So there it is - the final stages of Khan's rise to power. Whatever
reasons for dealing with Khan rather than opposing him, Russia's foreign

policy is not widely disseminated, only its results. Perhaps they feared
beast of civil war within more than the spectre of nuclear war from
perhaps they were made assurances they would be safe. This, manifestly,
not the place to find out. Wars do not arise from one decision, one
one solitary incident. They have triggers, just as a gun does, but they 
require barrels to be cast, bullets to be made, and the gun to be loaded

first. Perhaps this failure is pulling the trigger of World War III,
there is another chance to stop things that has yet to fail. However,
one man can explain why this gun was loaded in the first place, and he
die in 247 years time, aboard the hijacked USS Reliant, in pitched
with the USS Enterprise at the Genesis Planet."
She'Ra shivered nervously as the name Khan came to her. It was
knowing someone with the name Khan could be evil. She turned and looked
the sky and moaned deep inside as the voice broke through her thoughts.

=^= "Vanguard to Away Team. This is Santos. Is everything alright down 
there?" =^= A voice crackled through the communicators, finally.
=^= "I'll say. It's good to hear your voice sir. We're standing by." 
Mandrake replied, with a grin.
=^= "Excellent. McCaw. Six to beam up."
As the sound of the temporal transportor started to whine, the
beeped together and the group was brought into the same frame of time.
Meanwhile, behind a fence the two boys were back and could see a strange

blue light being cast onto the near-by surroundings.
Benny: "What is it?"
Davey: "I don't know, but whatever it is, I'm sure gonna find out."
Davey broke away from his friend and ran towards the lights.
Benny: "Hey wait! Don't leave... me."
The beam-out process was now in full-swing. The communicators were
like canaries. Mandrake, now faintly appearing before the group, looked
his comrades on this little adventure, and said, "Don't you just love it

when a plan comes together?". It was sure one that he'd never forget.

[USS Vanguard; Still Somewhere in Time]
The away team flashed into existence and then out again.
Santos: "McCaw. Whats wrong?"
McCaw: "I'm not sure. Its like there is someone else... no wait,
Mandrake is 
        slightly out of phase with the rest of the group - but I'm 
Xristha Droin, Ms. Merchant, Sam McCaw and Dominic Ceasor Santos looked
to the transports pads and waited with expectation.
When the six finally re-materialised onboard the ship, they were quite 
relieved. Mandrake checked his parts and looked around the cargo bay.
"Is everythi...", the Captain was just about to ask if everything was 
alright when a young boy ran out from behind and into the centre of the 
There was immediate panic in the room, albeit mostly from Ms. Merchant
screams of, "oh no!" and "what are we going to do!".
"Hey. The enchilada's cool", Mandrake reassured.
The Captain stood stern and with authority. "Right. I'm going to do what
should have done from the very beginning. I'm taking control of this 
"You can't 'control' an operation of this sort." Darkwater observed, 
stepping out of everyone's way to stand on the sidelines, focussing his 
stare on Ms Merchant. "All you can do is hope to survive it - that's why
have a Temporal Prime Directive in the first place.." He did feel the 
slightest bit guilty about the pair of spectacles nestling in his pocket
he said it, though.

Droin rushed over and injected the boy with a sedative before he took in
much of his new surroundings. What was to be done now was a case of
limitation. Erase the boy's recollection and send him back - perhaps
was the incidence that causes the very Earth's destruction!
She'Ra shook her head and looked at the unconscious boy. There was one
them. He was one of the same boys that had seen them that night. She
around at the others and noticed that she could now see Cynan, but she
strangle him for scaring her later. Right now the problem was....
She'Ra: "There's only one of them."

Highwaij: "We can see that."

She'Ra: "No you don't get it. These two seem to share a brain, wheres
         other one?"

Cynan: "He could have seen..."

Droin: "No matter what he says, this one will deny it because afterwards
        won't remember anything."
She'Rea sighed.
[San Francisco, 1990] 
The spectacles had fetched a good price, enough to finally pay for the 
holiday. Isaac, closed up the shop that night with a smile, turning off
light and heading out with the money for the day sat in his back pocket.

Morag would be so surprised, he knew. For fourteen years of marriage
been promising to take her on a real holiday somewhere abroad, and now, 
finally, he could. Normally he turned left out of the shop, heading
but he's closed early today and went right instead, heading for the
agency two blocks over.
Skiff slithered to the edge of the alley, blinking furiously, the itch
his arm still there, the infuriating, infected scabs of hundreds of
hits tracing their path from his wrist past his elbow, and up to his
pocket. The blinking eyes focussed on the shopkeeper across the road, 
locking up early with a big shit-eating grin smeared across his face.
was someone who'd had a good day, someone with cash to spend. cash to
"Just distributin' the wealth.." Skiff muttered to himself, scratching
blinking in the harsh orange glow of the street-lamp. He couldn't recall

who'd said that. Six months ago he might have, back when he was
college, back when he remembered where college was.. siz months. six
a lifetime and more. A lifetime could be so long. or so short.
Wherever military men gathered, they spoke of their units and their 
respective armies or air forces proudly, respectfully, but with a 
competitive edge. Many names were put forward as the best, many scoffed
but more often than not such groups as the British SAS, US Delta Forces
the Israeli Mossad were put forward. When members of those military
gathered together, however, they spoke of the rumours of the ISA - the 
international security agency. 
And when the ISA gathered - and very occasionally they did - for
they spoke of Boyd. Boyd was a sniper, engineer and pilot of exceptional

skill and talent, a ghost wandering the fringes of soldier, spy and
assassin. Boyd was the best.
Boyd was lost.
The call had come late in the day, but he had left immediately, the
old Buick starting at the second attempt: it had never liked the damp.
was his first time in San Fransisco, the tertiary meeting point behind
York and Washington, both of which were under heavy scrutiny of late.
signs for the freeway had pointed him this way, he was sure, but there
no obvious sign of it, as he rounded the corner in the slick mist.
Isaac felt the knife punch through his coat, the tearing, burning pain
as it 
opened the skin above his kidney, plunging into the flesh beneath. His
flapped open to gasp a shout, but the pain was too much, and a hand
inside his coat to snatch away his money before he could manage it.
of Morag's disappointment, the opportunities lost flashed across his
and anger swelled up, drowning out the pain, submerging the burn as he 
grabbed at the hand and shoved.
Isaac, pained and shocked, tugged against Skiff's grip, weak from abuse
poor nutrition, and the desperation of love won out over the desperation
addiction. Skiff's grip slipped and he fell backwards, his head
with a resounding crack against the bonnet of a passing car, his neck 
twisting sickeningly as he landed on the tarmac. The driver of the car,
eyed and contemplative laid a hand on the gearstick to shift it to
to get away, but a patrol car rounded the corner, heading towards them,
Isaac flagged them weakly over, giving Boyd no option but to play along.
By the next morning Boyd was back at home, frowning at the
leafing through the paper for news when the TV cut out for a newsflash. 
Someone had tried to assassinate Khan at a public rally. The bullet had 
pierced his shoulder, a high-powered sniper's bullet from across the
Boyd watched the footage, watched the shot that hadn't accounted for the

wind coming in off the bay enough over the two-hundred yards the bullet
to travel: watched the shot he would have made, and cursed the dead drug

addict who had just ended the world as he knew it.

[To Be Continued...]

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