Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer

“Captain, we’re being hailed by Ambassador Kapris. He say’s it’s urgent.”

Dammit, thought Captain Santiago, I don’t have time for this. “Tell him that I cannot be interrupted.”

“Sir, he says that it’s a matter of life and death. He says that our tachyon experiment won’t work.”

“What? Nobody on Pegasi Prime knows about this experiment. How the hell did he find out?”

“He says that if you transport down, he’ll tell you.”

A few minutes later, the captain materialized in the office of Ambassador Kapris. “This is a breach of security, Ambassador. I demand to know how you found out about the experiment.”

“I told him, dad,” said an old man standing next to the Ambassador. Santiago hadn’t even noticed him until he spoke. The old man continued, “I’ve waited decades for you to get here. What’s the matter, don’t you recognize your own son?”

Santiago studied the old man. He had to admit, there was a resemblance. “What are you talking about? I don’t have any children.”

“True,” replied the old man. “But you will, unless you listen to what I have to say. When I was young, you told me that the experiment you’re about to run failed. It started a cascading temporal distortion that destabilized your warp core. You and your crew managed to get into escape pods, but when the reactor blew, everybody was killed, except for you and Mary Toole. A temporal rift transported your Pods back in time almost 90 years. You landed on this planet and went into hiding so you wouldn’t disrupt the timeline. You eventually had a child, me, and I too have lived a secluded life. Mom died several decades ago, and you died within a week. Today, the circle is complete. I can finally come out of hiding. You had asked me, if I lived long enough, to try to save your crew. Please, call your ship. Tell them to shut down the experiment. But hurry, time is running out.”

“Ensign Toole from Engineering? I barely know her.” After a moment’s reflection, Santiago finally said, “No, this is ridiculous. I can’t stop the experiment without evidence.”

“Okay,” offered the old man. “Just delay it ten minutes. Then you’ll have your proof.”

“What kind of proof?”

“Well, I’ll disappear, of course. If your ship doesn’t blow up at the exact same time, you’ll change history. My history, to be specific. The cascade won’t start at 10:25, you won’t get into the escape Pods at 10:28, the ship won’t explode at 10:31, and you and mom won’t be transported back in time to have me. I’ll cease to exist. Simple, huh? Can a ten minute delay hurt?”

The captain studied the sincerity in the old man’s eyes. Eyes, he realized, that were nearly identical to the ones that looked back at him every morning when he shaved. He decided that it was worth the gamble. He tapped his communicator, “Captain Santiago to Engineering. Power down the tachyon generator, and await further instructions, out. Okay, ‘son,’ let’s say you’re right. Won’t this cause your death?”

“Technically, yes, but I’ve already lived 86 years. Besides, maybe a few years from now I’ll be born again in this timeline. But do yourself a favor, dad. When you get back to the ship, get to know Mary Toole. She’s a wonderful person. She’ll make a great wife, and a fantastic mother. And, please, make sure that you tell her that I love her.” With that, the old man smiled and faded to nothingness. The chronometer on the wall read 10:31.

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