TIME AND TIDE
Previously: Episode Thirteen
JUMPER’s LOG, Star Date 2275, July 30 (9 Years, 11 Month, 364 Days)
Every party has to end. By long standing tradition, my adventures always ended on a beach. This time, that beach was on Risa. My friends and I raised our glasses in a final toast to Starfleet, while the Redshirt brigade compared all the various ways they’d been killed. Out of a sense of completionism, I’d already accepted a position at Oxford, where, in theory, S’Janus would be teaching a postgraduate slate of courses in Xenobiology, Artificial Intelligence, and Medical Diagnostics. I’d also be giving a series of public lectures on interspecies ethics and responsible stewardship. It sounded like she’d be having an interesting couple of decades, and I was, for once, almost tempted to stick around. But, as they say, Time and Tide wait for no man, and I couldn’t stay. Perhaps someday a TNG jump would cross my desk and I’d return, or I’d get bored enough to choose to use the Return from the Warehouse. But either way, I wouldn’t be the same person then.
Once again, the world froze and the Pillars rose. “Thank you for playing, please exit the reality.” I raised one last toast to Starfleet, so much better in real life than the original series had made it seem… and so much worse as well. Ah well, that’s reality for you.
WORLD 8? Not Quite
As my squad and I re-entered the Warehouse, which we’d collectively decided to call “Home Two” a few years earlier, just after we’d finished actually building the Warehouse Suites out of 23rd century ship parts, it was to the sound of Harpsichord music… which is odd because I don’t own a harpsichord and don’t particularly care for their sound. I drew my wand and motioned everyone forward quietly as my left hand iced over and we moved towards the house.
“Welcome, Welcome, and Be ye Welcome!” came a voice floating out of my long long distant childhood. I blinked, surprise breaking through my calm, as I beheld William Campbell, blue coat, ascot, and pompadour, sitting at a, yes, harpsichord.
“Trelane?!” I gasped, “What the hell?
“Now now, that’s no way for a Vulcan to speak,” The Squire of Gothos chided.
“My apologies, your brattiness. But primus, why are you in my home, and secundus, how are you in my home?”
“I’m Trelane! I can do anything! And You came to my Universe and didn’t even say hi? I was slighted! Slighted I say! I demand satisfaction.”
I groaned “Oh shut up. It was TOS. Kirk encountered you, not me.”
“But you could have. You could have joined Enterprise and visited me.”
“Look, Q Junior. Go away. I’ve got a month of very serious lounging planned and I don’t want to deal with you… Or Corbin, or John.”
“Q or Q.”
“Oh. Them. Right. Good Call. Anyway, I think Q is bugging someone else right now. But Q’s free. I can go get him if you like?”
“I’m sure you could,” I drawled, marginally amused to find that I could somehow know exactly which Q was which as this bizarre conversation continued. “But no thanks.”
“Okay… but next time you’re in my neighborhood, you have to promise to play with me. The Q are sooo boring!” I groaned, which he seemed to take as agreement. “Oh, and I have a letter for you from a mutual friend.”
“We don’t have any mutual friends.”
“Well, he’s a friend of mine. He was a little annoyed you stabbed him with your Goblin Sword.”
“I stabbed a lot of people with my Goblin Sword. I may have been drunk, but I wasn’t murderous. Almost all of them deserved it. And I healed and usually apologize to those who didn’t.”
“Well, Shiggy says he was just minding his own business when you snuck up behind him and asked him to say hello to your little friend.”
“Shiggy? Do you mean Sheogorath? He… I… well… yes, technically that did happen.” I said, somewhat sheepishly. “But he was trying to destroy reality… or at least making my hangover so much worse. Plus, I didn’t kill him. Just… made an introduction.”
“Yeah, well, he says he’s expecting you, next time you swing through.”
“I don’t think that’s going to happen. To either you or him.”
Trelane smirked, “Oh. You’d be surprised. We’ve pulled some strings. Keep on Jumping, and both of us will see you again.”
“Trying to tempt me to go home are you?”
“Naw. You try that before coming by for a visit and we might have to visit you instead.”
I shuddered at the chaos that Trelane and Sheogorath would cause on my home reality, then smirked “You could run for president. Better than some of the jokers who are doing so right now.”
“You wouldn’t like me as President.”
“Probably true. Now, would you kindly leave.”
“I’m only going because I want to, not because you’ve conditioned me to obey your commands whenever you say Would You Kindly.” I rolled my eyes, and when they returned to their original positions, TOQ and his harpsichord were gone. My companions rushed in then, as if they’d been caught in temporal fly paper. I sighed, then had a horrible thought and snapped “Victoria! Status of the Prisoner?”
My Omni-VI, now operating in a Magitek-OmniGel FTL field that was one step short of a true Quantum Field, said “Evil S’Janus is no longer in her cell. A Baboon wearing a Tutu and a Tricorn has replaced her.”
I shuddered, not looking forward to finding out what Q-T and Shiggy had planned with my evil cyborg counterpart, but knowing that, like it or not, I was going to find out at the worst possible moment.
“Zane? Have the Vending Machines shown up yet?”
“Yup. They’re in Chinese. And there’s an empty wooden rack next to them.”
This I had to see. I went into the warehouse proper. The Vending Machines of Destiny had been installed in their own Alcove this time, with the words “CHOOSE YOUR FATE!” in flashing Neon above them. Next to them, just outside the alcove, was the kind of wooden rack you find in tourist hotels, the kind that carry brochures and pamphlets about all the local attractions. It was currently empty, but had a sign on it that said “Coming Soon.” I wondered what that was all about, but turned my attention back to the machines, then almost squealed with glee.
“Ranma!? The next jump is Ranma? Woooo!” It is possible I may have done a little dance at this point. Zane bopped me. “The show with the all the pervy fanfics you like so much?” I nodded happily, then said “Heeeey! Not all the fanfics I like are pervy! Some of them are just a little naughty. And most of them are actual improvements on the writing of the original show!”
“Like the one where Ranma’s a ditzy blonde?”
“Or the one where she’s a lesbian?”
“Or the one where she’s Sailor Sun?”
“That’s a crossover. And yeah, those were pretty good. A little wrong, but good.”
“How about the one where Ranma had a little sister who was the martial artist while he was the geek? The one where he definitely wasn’t sleeping with the sexy little sister… but wanted to.”
“Careful Destiny was cool! Shame it tapered out.”
“Yeah, and you’ve read the official unofficial lemon section how many times?”
“It was hot!”
“You’re a perv.”
“Bite me.” Never tell a Lucario to bite you. Owww.
“How about Girl Days, or Burlesque, or Genma’s Daughter, or… what was your favorite one called… Couch Trips?”
“Hey, Couch Trips was cool. They all needed therapy. Look. Ranma ½ is possibly the best example of a great setting and great characters being utterly wasted by an author who doesn’t a) think of them as more than gag-delivery vehicles and b) doesn’t really understand the cultural and social impact of what she’s writing. It’s like Orson Scott Card and Ender’s Game. Great book, but the writer is a bit of a tool. Same with Watchmen, V For Vendetta, and anything else Alan Moore has ever created. Or Narnia.”
“Yeah, Yeah. Well, this isn’t Fanfic Ranma. This is Cannon Ranma. Whacky Hijinks and all.”
I sighed. “Yeah… just have to hope it’s the manga and not the Anime. There were some really stupid Anime episodes.”
“Bet it’s both. We’re going to be there for 10 years.”
I nodded, “Well, let’s see what we’ve got.”
Next: World 8 – Setup