Clark Kent had a couple of very rough days.
Two different days.
In one case, he was wandering around a city, suffering the effects of red kryptonite and acting quite insane.
As he did, he recalled how he and a time-traveling SG-1 had to correct a timeline in which Bruce Wayne's parents lived and dictators ruled Earth for hundreds of years.
That by itself was very rough. Not just trying to correct the timeline but what happened afterwards.
On another day, Clark was in a coma in Belle Reve Sanitarium and some men in black suits arrived to get him.
Oh, yes. There was also a Terminator on its way to destroy him.
A Terminator with a red sun laser and green kryptonite bullets.
So even if Clark did wake up in time, there might be nothing he could do.
A SMALLVILLE/STARGATE/STAR TREK ADVENTURE
“HOW TO SAVE BRUCE WAYNE'S PARENTS (PART 2)”
Sitting in that empty alley, Clark felt sure he was going crazy.
Clark had a hazy memory of some guy he met, Bruce Wayne. The guy said he and his parents almost got robbed once. Ever since then, this guy Wayne had been a little crazy. There was even a story once in the Daily Planet about how during a party Bruce Wayne burned down his family's mansion. According to gossip columnist Linda Lake, the guy even had some weird fear of bats.
Now Clark was seeing news articles in his mind—kind of like he would if looking at a tricorder, hooked up to some improvised primitive computer. (Was there something like that around here?) These news articles said Bruce Wayne's parents had been murdered.
“It's what happens,” a voice said. Clark saw a guy with white sideburns. The name tag said “O'Neill,” and somewhere on his uniform it said “colonel.”
“When we change time, our minds readjust or reboot or whatever you want to call it,” O'Neill said with slight impatience. From what Clark could tell, the guy usually sounded impatient.
“We get new memories of the new timeline,” said a guy with glasses. Daniel? Daniel....Jackson?
“We fix things,” O'Neill said. “It's what we do.”
“And we make things better. I hope,” Daniel said.
Clark felt like his brain, his mind was completely scrambled. Like he was living two completely different lives.
What in the universe was going on?
In his mind, Clark again saw the pointy-eared guy. He was a Vulcan, right? A Vulcan named....Fred?
What had he told all the people on his planet about time travel?
Clark sensed that somehow this guy was part of something very important.
Fred, Clark thought hazily, was part of a much larger story where the universe was breaking down.
The team arrived safely on Vulcan.
But when they did, Clark felt himself being pushed, and he bumped the lever on the floor.
Fred, the other Fred from before, watched in horror as a rift opened up and Clark was sucked in to it.
“That didn't go so well,” Daniel noted drily.
O'Neill held up the Restart Device. “Well, that's the nice thing about time travel, Daniel. If at first you don't succeed---”
He pressed “Restart.”
Restart was an interesting experience.
It usually involved being zipped through a dozen space-time tunnels in a matter of seconds, emerging from more than one Stargate, and briefly experiencing the climate on each of a half-dozen worlds.
All this brought them to the Guardian of Forever, and they all jumped through the time portal together.
This brought them to the exact same time and place they were before. They had all of their memories from before. Each person also had a bit of a fuzzy headache.
But they were alone. Their other selves from before were gone.
What happened to their other selves was not entirely clear. Daniel speculated they were sent to some kind of limbo where they soon faded away. Or at least he hoped they did. He did not like to think of a dimension with a dozen or more SG-!'s bickering with each other.
It would, he said once, be like that “Star Trek” episode where the two guys, half-black and half-white, ended up in some limbo fighting each other forever.
Some methods of time travel did not allow a person to return to the same point in time more than once. This bit of technology from the Q and the Ancients did allow such a thing.
Theoretically, they could do this as often as they needed to but each time the headaches would increase and eventually (like on the 200th restart) there would be agonizing physical pain all over the body. Much like with Clark on kryptonite, from the way he described it. .
For now they were fine. This was only their first “Restart” experience of the day.
The team arrived safely on Vulcan. Again. Just them. No other “them's” from the past.
This time, Clark immediately grabbed Fred. The other Fred. The one from before.
But a voice said, “Trip.” As Clark tripped, he dropped Fred who hit the foot lever. Clark and Fred were both sucked in to the rift.
Sighing wearily, O'Neill pressed “Restart.”
When they once again arrived safely on Vulcan, this time Teal'c was the one to grab Fred and he also fired his staff weapon around the room.
A voice said, “Forget.” Teal'c stopped firing.
O'Neill stared at his phaser. “We have phasers,” O'Neill said absently. “What do we use those for again?”
“I have no idea, sir,” Carter said.
Daniel frowned as he examined his. “Kind of cool looking, though.”
“Yeah, nice,” Clark said as he looked at his.
“They're nice,” Beckett agreed.
Some invisible being pushed O'Neill. He stumbled but missed the lever on the floor. The Restart Device landed at his feet..
But then Carter was pushed forward, and she hit the lever with her foot.
O'Neill and Carter were sucked into the rift.
“Okay,” Daniel sighed wearily as he picked up the device. His look suggested he was already tired of this situation.
Daniel pressed “Restart.”
This time Clark ran around the room at super-speed, trying to swat whatever invisible being was in the room.
Unfortunately, there was more than one. They all pushed the members of SG-1. Daniel was the one who hit the floor lever this time. This time the entire group was sucked in to the rift.
They all lay there in the alley, the man with the gun groaning in pain while the horrified man, woman, and little boy looked on.
Sitting up, O'Neill activated the Restart Device.
“A little strategy this time,” O'Neill said as they paused in front of the Guardian of Forever..
He outlined his plan. Then they leaped through the Guardian.
Once again they all arrived safely inside the Vulcan Children's Science Museum.
Beckett leaped into Fred/Surnak. O'Neill, Daniel, and Carter guarded the Beckett-possessed Vulcan. Teal'c fired his staff weapon around the room while Clark ran around at super-speed swatting the air.
“Forget,” a voice said.
“What are these phasers for?” O'Neill asked.
The invisible beings pushed O'Neill, Daniel, and Carter. More than once. “Hit the lever,” a voice said. Daniel hit the floor lever. Fred headed for the rift.
Clark leaped into the air and grabbed him. But they both sailed into the rift.
O'Neill was about to press “Restart” but seconds later Clark emerged from the rift holding on to Fred/Surnak. .
“It's all right,” he said. “We didn't crash into anyone. Leaped right over the guy, and I ran away. Just do a wipe.”
With Teal'c ushering one Fred and Clark the other, they all hurried out of the room, O'Neill and Carter firing their phasers behind them..
“That sent them back where they belong,” Carter said.
O'Neill nodded. “Our work here is done.”
Fred, the one from before, the one with Clark, stared at the group.
“Yeah, that's gotta be weird,” O'Neill said. “Seeing another you and a bunch of strangers. Oh, plus going through that rift with Clark.”
“The Joker's invisible minions didn't help the situation,” Daniel said with slight peevishness. “Ever since one of the Ancients joined the rogue Q, the Joker's had his invisible army to interfere in our time corrections.”
“Yeah, the mind-control beasties are the worst. We even forgot to use our phasers until the end there.” O”Neill shook his head as he held up his phaser. .
The colonel then turned to the Vulcan, who blinked in bewilderment. “We know. It's weird, right? What's going on? Well, in a few seconds, Fred, it won't matter.” He held up the Restart Device. “I've got a button here called 'Wipe.' It'll erase any evidence we were here, it'll erase that whole event that changed the timeline—you bumping into that guy--and it'll be just like before. Those people in the alley won't even remember. It'll be like none of this ever happened.”
“Because it never did,” Daniel said. He then spoke in Vulcan.
O'Neill pointed to the “Wipe” button on the Restart Device. “So here we go on our way to a nice normal evening.” O'Neill pressed the button.
The Fred from before stood frozen while the room glowed yellow. An orange portal opened up, and members of the group stepped in to it while O'Neill and Daniel stayed behind.
Looking at Fred-from-before, O'Neill gave a light salute with two fingers to his cap. “See ya.”
“Wait,” Daniel said.
There were two Freds in the room.
The Fred from the future was looking around, blinking in bewilderment.
“Whoa,” O'Neill said. “That's not supposed to happen. Normally I press 'Wipe.' The one from the past stays. The other one disappears.”
Fred said something in Vulcan.
“He says it doesn't apply to Vulcans,” Daniel said. “That they, in a sense, stand outside time.”
O'Neill looked mildly disgusted. “Well, that's great. Now what? We can't have two Freds running around the universe.”
Fred/Surnak said something else in Vulcan.
“He says he knows a place where two hermits lived,” Daniel said. “He says it's out in the wilderness, that he'll be unlikely to pollute the timeline there.”
O'Neill threw his hands up. “Sounds like the best option to me.” He held up one hand. “And as long as you remember everything that happened, you might as well warn your people about the danger of going through things like that.” He gestured to the rift.
“Good idea, Jack,” Daniel talked to Surnak in Vulcan.
Nodding, Fred-from-the-future left the room.
O'Neill and Daniel went through the orange portal.
Time went on as before.
Asleep in the alley, Clark had a weird dream. He dreamed that he was Fred cleaning the science lab. And he wondered if teleportation was possible.
In the dream, Clark moved to another place and time. Now he was with some scientists. They were studying Alicia Baker, a young woman with the ability to teleport anywhere just by thinking about the place.
In the dream, a voice announced: “Their research laid the early groundwork for the transporters used later by Starfleet.”
Clark had other weird dreams.
First, he was there when Fred (or Surnak) talked to the Vulcan Science Council. The pointy-eared men and women were in their robes standing behind tall thin podiums. To Clark, it looked like when the Guardians of Oa had one of their council meetings.
As Clark listened, he could understand everything the Vulcans were saying. Fred/Surnak described how he collided with a man with a gun and the result was a planet ruled over by evil dictators for centuries.
The Council decided on a firm rule: In time travel, there must be no interference.
“I won't interfere,” Clark mumbled there in the alley.
An eerie voice spoke inside his head. “That rule was very important for a Vulcan named Spock who had to persuade his ship's captain to stop Doctor Leonard McCoy from saving a woman named Edith Keeler.”
“Edith Keeler must die,” a raspy voice said. This was followed by shrieking high-pitched laugh.
With his eyes closed, Clark moved his hand as if swatting at a fly. “Go away,” he mumbled.
Clark struggled to stand up then leaned against a brick wall, dizzy and weak. “I guess that's very important, though. If you can help it, stay away from time travel. If you can possibly help it, stay away.”
He laughed weakly. “But if you do accidentally get involved in time travel, like Fred did, or the way I did, whatever you do don't touch anything. Make sure you don't step on a butterfly.” Clark laughed at his little joke.
“Don't talk to anyone,” he said to no one. “Don't interact with younger versions of your parents. YEAH, I'M TALKING TO YOU, MARTY McFLY!” Clark shouted to the sky.
“And whatever you do, don't save anyone,” he concluded sadly. He looked down. “Oh, yeah. And don't fall in love with anyone. I think Captain Kirk learned that the hard way.”
A moment later, Clark looked puzzled. “What was I just saying?” He shrugged. “Doesn't matter.”
As SG-1 stepped down from the Stargate, Clark said, “Guys? When I was back in the past, I heard gunshots. What exactly happened?”
“Whatever happened, Clark, was what had to happen,” O'Neill said.
“Oh, sure,” Daniel said. “A little boy just loses his parents, that's all. Just has the pain of that, that's all.”
“He does become a crime fighter,” Beckett said.
“So that makes it all right?” Daniel inquired skeptically.
“Look,” O'Neill said, “ you saw the future, right? You know what it's like there. Is that the kind of future you want for Earth? Dictators and emperors for hundreds of years?”
“What happened?” Clark demanded. “I caused someone to lose his parents?”
“Clark, you don't want to know.”
Clark stepped closer to O'Neill. “No. I do want to know.”
O'Neill grimaced slightly. “It was your buddy Bruce Wayne, all right? But it's for the best.”
“No!” Clark roared. “I won't be responsible for someone losing his parents.”
“Clark, it's done.”
“Then I'll undo it!”
“No, Clark. You can't,” O'Neill stepped closer to him. “Is that what you want? People ruled over by dictators?” Clark looked sullen and tearful. “No matter how many powers you have you cannot control everything. And some things are meant to be.”
“Meant to be?” Daniel said.
“Meant to be?” Clark shouted.
O'Neill's tone of voice was measured but firm. “Yes, Clark. We may not like it but this is what we do. We fix things, we go home.” .
“No,” Clark said.
“Clark, we've been through this, all right?” Sighing, O'Neill turned to Daniel. “Daniel, explain it to him.”
With his arms crossed, Daniel took a deep breath. “We are the protectors of the :Prime Universe. And why is the Prime Universe so important? Gang?”
Except for Clark, the others chanted in unison. “It's the universe that stabilizes all other universes.”
“That's right. The Prime Universe stabilizes all other universes. It's at the center of the multiple universes. As the protectors of the Prime Universe, we are responsible to fix any altered timelines within that universe. Now here's how it works: Only someone from the Prime Universe can alter a timeline within the Prime Universe. When a person alters a timeline, we have to take that person back to the alteration point. Don't ask me why. I don't make the rules. I just work here.”
Daniel looked slightly impatient as he continued. “Each time the Joker alters a timeline within the Prime Universe, it sends a ripple throughout the multiple universes. That allows the Joker to alter one or more of the other universes. Which allows the Joker to grow in power.”
“And last time we saw the guy he was roughly the size of a galaxy,” O'Neill said.
“Oh, good,” Daniel said. “Now that you're mentioned the Joker, I have to talk about him, too. Thanks very much, Jack. Yes, the Joker. Given Q-like abilities and powers by the rogue Q. He has the power to alter universes. But the Joker can't directly alter timelines within the Prime Universe. He can send outside elements into the Prime Universe. He can influence or manipulate people within the Prime Universe. But he can't directly alter a timeline.”
Daniel took another deep breath. “The thing is, because of the ripple effect, a timeline in the Prime Universe always has to be changed back. That means even if the Joker created a Prime Universe filled with unicorns, puppy dogs and rainbows---”
“Which that wasn't,” O'Neill said pointedly as Teal'c lifted an eyebrow. .
“---it would still have to be changed back because of the way it destabilizes the other universes. Now, Clark, I'm sorry about Bruce Wayne and his parents. Obviously the Joker did this to try to upset you and get to you. And for that I'm truly sorry.”
Clark was silent.
Beckett's voice was gentle and quiet. “The thing is, Clark, if you're not careful you could open yourself up to a lot of craziness. And that allows the Joker to alter you.”
“It's just...hard,” Clark said with tears in his voice.
“But it has to be done.” O'Neill placed a comforting hand on Clark's shoulder. “We do what we have to..”
“At what cost?” Clark asked.
“Hey, Clark,” O'Neill whispered. “I'm sorry, okay?”
“You going to be all right, Clark?” Carter asked tenderly.
“There aren't always easy answers, Clark,” Daniel said. “Or easy things to do.”
“You have conducted yourself most admirably, Clark Kent,” Teal'c said. “With your strength of character, I am confident you will do great deeds with honor.”
Clark attempted a smile. “Just like a Jaffa, huh?”
“Indeed,” Teal'c said with a slight bow.
“It's not always easy changing people's lives,” Beckett said. “I know.”
They stood in silence for a while, the members of SG-1 gathered around Clark as he stood with his head bowed.
“It makes me wonder,” O'Neill said. “Since Clark could do all this without us, why exactly were we chosen for this?”
“Who knows, Jack?” Daniel said. “I can't know everything that goes on in the mind of the Guardian..”
“Even though his voice is in your head? In all our heads?” O'Neill slapped the side of his head as if trying to get the voice out.
Carter shrugged. “It's probably because of our experience in visiting other worlds.”
“As opposed to Kirk's crew or Picard's crew? They have experience in time travel. They could do this, not us.”
“We are more familiar with twentieth-century Earth,” Beckett ventured.
“Which hardly helps when we visit other time periods on other planets,” O'Neill said. “And we don't have super powers. Clark does. He could do this all on his own.”
“With all due respect, O'Neill, I believe you are incorrect,” Teal'c said. “Clark Kent needs guidance and support: he cannot do it on his own. He needs others to help form him into a hero.”
“I hope Bruce Wayne finds the same,” Clark said quietly.
“I'm sure he does,” O'Neill said, patting Clark on the back. “It may not be Jonathan Kent but someone will be there to help him.”
“And,” Daniel said, “after we return home, even if we forget all this, hopefully something of this will stay with you.”
“I'm sure it will,” Clark said with a slight grin, his eyes still moist.
“Your reaction is most understandable, Clark Kent,” Teal'c said. “Even though the death of Bruce Wayne's parents ultimately worked out for good,, it is still fitting and proper and right to feel sadness over this tragic loss of life.”
“We could even feel sad for Joe Chill,” Carter said. “You know, for whatever made him do such a thing.” While Clark stared off in the distance, the others nodded solemnly.
“Maybe,” Beckett said. “Maybe we could have a moment of silence? For Bruce Wayne's parents.”
“And also for Joe Chill,” Daniel said.
“Absolutely,” O'Neill said quietly.
Those with caps removed them. With their arms around each other, they bowed their heads. They stood there in silence for many moments.
When they all lifted their heads, it was a while before anyone spoke.
Then O'Neill groaned slightly. “The Guardian's just located the latest altered universe by the Joker. We need to go change it back. Make sure you've got your phasers.”
The Stargate was quickly activated. As his friends stepped into the sparkling shiny waves, Clark lagged behind. At first he maintained his cool Vulcan-like demeanor with a slight grin. Then anger and irritation flashed across his face.
“I don't like it,” he said bitterly.
In another realm, Wesley Crusher, who once served aboard the starship Enterprise under Captain Jean-Luc Picard, spoke with the inter-dimensional being known as the Traveler.
“I don't get it,” he said. “What did this Vulcan do that caused things to be so bad on Earth?”
The Traveler spoke in his usual calm quiet measured voice. “The man he crashed into was Joe Chill. The man and the woman in the alley were the parents of Bruce Wayne. 'Fred'--real name Surnak—created a world without Batman.”
Wesley frowned. “Why would Batman be so important?”
“It wasn't because of his involvement in secret government work.” The Traveler gave a slight smile. “Once Amanda Waller approached Batman about doing such work.”
“How'd that go?” Wesley asked.
“They began by exchanging pleasantries,” the Traveler said. “'Heard you were dead,' the Bat said grimly.”
Wesley laughed when he heard the Travler's pitch-perfect impersonation of the Dark Knight's raspy voice. Many people thought inter-dimensional beings were dead serious, but the Traveler had a terrific sense of humor. It was no wonder he was such a hit at all the parties for inter-dimensional travelers.
Wesley laughed again when the Traveler did a facial impersonation of Amanda Waller and her grim angry look. He laughed even harder when the Traveler turned his face into Waller's face. As the Traveler went on with the story, Wesley nodded as he pictured it.
'”Waller explained how she had been in the hospital a long time after a near-fatal encounter with the alien military commander Zod. During her lengthy recovery time, Waller read whatever she could get her hands on. And she did have access to secret government libraries.”
“Which meant more than back issues of Cosmo,” Wesley joked. “Not that Waller was really a Cosmo Girl anyway.”
At first, they both laughed. But then they were both very alarmed as they realized they were not acting quite like themselves. It was one thing for powerful evil forces to influence Clark Kent and SG-1 as they tried to restore a timeline. But for those same evil forces to be able to influence the two of them? That meant great danger.
Of course they were aware of the many evil beings working to destabilize the multiple universes. They did not have to share their thoughts.
The Traveler went on. “Waller obtained the diary of Edith Keeler, an obscure figure from the Depression era, America, Earth. She ran a mission while organizing her worldwide peace movement. At least she did in that reality. In her diary, Keeler wrote of an ideal world, one where man harnessed incredible energies and the money spent on death was instead spent on life. Waller wanted to make that world happen. By any means necessary.
“'No matter what the little dictators might think of it,' she told Batman.” The Traveler did a perfect creaky cranky Amanda Waller voice. “Batman replied, 'Didn't know you had a soft side.'” The Traveler made Batman's head appear in place of his head as he did the Batman voice. “'Think I'll pass.'” The Batman head vanished. “Yes, he politely declined her offer to go to work for her new government agency.”
Wesley nodded. “So it wasn't Batman's involvement in secret government work that made a difference in Earth's history. What then?”
“It was Batman's example and influence.” The Traveler assumed the head of Data smoking a pipe as he went into full professor mode. Wesley had to stifle his laughter.. “Unlike other superheroes like Superman, Spider-Man, or the Hulk, Batman was a hero any person could become. Without the benefit of radioactivity.”
“Or even moving to another planet,” Wesley said. He then chuckled. “Or even being an inter-dimensional being.”
The Traveler smiled. “Like Superman and before him the Blur—even Green Arrow—Batman provided hope and inspiration to people. That inspiration became part of a worldwide movement on Earth where people rose up against ruthless dictators.”
Wesley looked thoughtful. “It's not surprising. Batman and Captain America did once save two universes. Without having any fantastic powers.”
“Yes,” the Traveler said. “They had no great super-powers. Just the power of the individual human spirit. When the DC Universe and the Marvel Universe were in danger, Batman and Captain America were the ones who persuaded two powerful beings to end their conflict.”
“So one person can make a difference,” Wesley said. “Each of us can make a difference in our own unique way.”
The Traveler's expression became very serious and grim. “Even a woman running a soup kitchen and starting a peace movement.”
“Especially her.” Wesley did not have to ask the Traveler about his troubled feelings. “Edith Keeler will become a focal point in history once again.”
“The beginning of a very troubled time,” the Traveler said somberly.
Somewhere in one of the many universes, Captain James T. Kirk awoke from a nightmare.
It was about Edith again.
Kirk saw it in his mind: the black truck barreling toward her, McCoy moving forward to save her.
Kirk holding him back.
He felt the incredible pain and anguish all over again.
Kirk knew the struggle he had had since the incident. Even though he carried on with his duties, Kirk knew that inside he was not the same.
Not for the first time he asked himself: Did he have to let her die?
According to Spock, yes. Drawing from tricorder readings and an improvised computer, Spock had determined that Edith Keeler was a focal point in history. While running a mission for the homeless and the poor, she also organized a global peace movement. Ironically, in another timeline, that resulted in a long troubled history for Earth.
Spock determined that if Edith lived Germany would rule the world.
So at the crucial moment Kirk held McCoy back.
Logically Kirk knew he did what he had to. But at times he still wondered what it would have been like to grow old with Edith.
As he went back to sleep, he had the nightmare again.
Only with one difference.
This time someone swooped in and saved Edith. The someone was a tall dark-haired young man.
And then Kirk had the most vivid dream.
He was looking out at a farm. The mailbox said “Kent.” He could even feel a slight breeze.
Only he wasn't back in Iowa with all its farms. No, he was somewhere else.
For a brief moment, it was like someone else took over his mind.
The someone had a name.
When Jim awoke, he lay there in the dark and thought about all this.
There in the dark, he made up his mind.
Tomorrow he would resign from Starfleet.
In his mind, Clark and the other people in camouflage pants stood before a group of men and women with pointed ears.
“The Vulcan Science Council,” Clark muttered aloud there in the alley. It was getting dark but he hardly noticed.
The head Vulcan calmly lectured them.
“It becomes obvious there are serious disruptions in the space-time continuum,” he said.
“We know that,” O'Neill said with a slight impatience. Turning to Daniel, he muttered in a low voice. “Can't get anything past these Vulcans.”
“We've been sent to help,” said the blond woman. Carter, Clark realized. Samantha Carter. Yeah, he had a slight crush on her. Who didn't?
In his mind, Clark relived what he did next.
'SO LET ME DO SOMETHING!” Clark roared. 'LET ME DO SOMETHING ALREADY!”
The Council members simply stared.
What followed was a little fuzzy for Clark but then he saw Daniel leaning over him.
“Clark, you've had a very intense concentrated exposure to red kryptonite. If you get exposed to any more you could have a serious psychological breakdown and some serious medical problems.”
Where's the Smallville Medical Center? Clark asked himself as he drifted off. Where's Sick Bay?
When Clark slept, he had feverish dreams of multiple realities.
At one point he was inside Captain Kirk's head as he looked out at the Kent farm.
Then he was inside Captain Kirk as he lay awake in his quarters aboard the Enterprise.
Weird, Clark thought. And the guy's going to resign from Starfleet? Tough stuff.
Clark went on to other feverish dreams.
“It's weird,” O'Neill said. “We use things that look like phasers and tricorders from 'Star Trek.' And we use portals created by Kryptonians.”
“That is iweird,” Clark said, looking a little sad.
O'Neill also looked a little sad. “Clark, I'm sorry. I didn't meant to--”
Clark put up a hand. “It's all right.”
“I think we're all a little on edge,” Daniel said.
Clark and SG-1 sat around a campfire once again. The stars above them were in new and different patterns, Clark saw. And they were always moving. Just like the universe around them was constantly changing for good or bad.
They had returned the Joker's latest altered universe back to normal, using their phasers to send displaced objects and people back to their home universe. When they set phasers on “restore,” they then fired phasers at Target Zero, the central point of that universe. The universe returned to its previous normal state.
But once they returned to Home Base no sooner had Daniel slipped into his Galactica jacket than the base was under attack again. This time by a small army of meteor freaks and some Borg.
So here they were.
“Seems like the Joker is determined to keep us on the run,” Clark said bitterly.
“Let us get what rest we can,” Teal'c advised.
“One good thing,” Carter said. “Surnak can warn the other Vulcans about the dangers of time travel.”
“Or has already warned them,” Daniel said, making a bookish face as he pointed his finger back and forth. “Surnak existed in the past. Therefore, he has already warned them. If he did warn them.”
“”You know, Daniel, that gets really confusing,” O'Neill said. “The thing is, the less people out there time-traveling, Vulcan or otherwise, the less we have to do.”
“Yeah, makes our jobs easier,” Beckett said.
“I'm for that,” Clark said with a slight grin.
“As am I,” Teal'c said.
With a broad smile, Clark lifted his hand. “High-five, Teal'c.”
With a slight smile, Teal'c lifted his hand. Clark high0fived him..
“It is important we fulfill our task,” Teal'c said.
“And go home,” Beckett said as Clark yawned.
“Yeah, home,” Clark said through the yawn.
“Whatever the future holds,” Carter said. Her tricorder beeped. When she consulted it, she grinned. “Good news, Daniel. Once we go back to Home Base, guess who's coming to visit? Team MacGyver..”
“Oh, yay,” Daniel said.
Carter almost smirked. “Your buddies, Daniel.”
“Archie, the Punisher, the whole gang,” O'Neill said.
“And those other guys,” Carter said.
“Don't forget your younger twin,” Daniel said.
“Yeah,” O'Neill said. “Explain to me again why we both look like Richard Dean Anderson.”
Daniel sighed heavily. “Well, Jack, across alternate timelines and alternate worlds there are currents or streams that impart certain qualities to people.”
“Really, Daniel?” Carter said.
“Huh,” O'Neill said. “You don't say.”
“People who have the same heroic qualities can also have the same physical characteristics. That's the case with you, MacGyver, and Mister Anderson. When Richard Dean Anderson couldn't be a Hero on his world, he became an actor who played Heroes like you and our friend Angus.”
“Angus,” O'Neill said with slight distaste. “I mean, come on. What kind of name is that? Angus.” He made a face. “And what's with the mullet?”
“Hairstyles change, sir,” Carter said.
“Please don't keep me up all night asking questions like Raj and Howard did,” Daniel said as he rolled over to go to sleep.
They all settled down to go to sleep.
“Good night, everyone,” Clark said.
“Good night, Clark,” Beckett said. “Good night, Daniel. Good night, Sam. Good night, Teal'c. Good night, Jack.”
“Good night already, Beckett,” O'Neill said.
“Good night, John Boy,” Beckett said with a light laugh. “Good night, Elizabeth.”
“What'd you do, Beckett, leap into the Waltons?” O'Neill asked.
“Yeah, I think we should all get some rest,” Daniel said into his inflatable pillow. “I think what we've been through so far is just a warm-up to something really big.”
O'Neill yawned. “Yeah, because once the Joker alters a timeline, he can turn Anubis and the System Lords into clowns and make them all dance.”
“Or do even more than that,” Daniel said. “Whatever the Joker's got planned next it's big. And he's going to be able to do some big things.”
When he awoke, Clark had some fuzzy memory he had gone crazy in front of the Vulcan Science Council.
“I want to save people,” Clark mumbled. “Not let them die. Okay, Jack? Okay, O'Neill? Daniel, help me out here. You're with me, right? I CAN'T LET PEOPLE DIE!” he roared.
Like Bruce Wayne's parents. The way he killed them. The way he killed Lana's parents.
“No, Clark.” In Clark's mind, O'Neill spoke very firmly. “You didn't murder anyone. Joe Chill did that. And you are not responsible for what happened to Lana's parents.”
Clark was tearful as he thought of it. Bruce Wayne's parents. Dead. Murdered. And he helped do that.
“I can't just let people die,” he said in a sagging, weak, dispirited voice.
“We think that's part of the problem, Clark.” When Carter spoke, her eyes looked bright and sincere. “Your need to be a hero. It's creating a psychological conflict inside you. One that worsens the effects of red kryptonite.”
“Clark, it could get worse,” Daniel said. “Much worse.”
“Yes, Carter. Yes, Daniel. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” Clark spoke aloud in the alley, sticking out his tongue as he did. He remembered once Carter brought O'Neill some bad news. The colonel plugged his ears and and chanted “la la la” over and over again. Clark giggled as he thought about it. Then he turned his face to one side, scrunching up his cheeks as he did.
In his mind, Clark felt Daniel touching his face and turning it toward him. “Clark, you have to be careful,” he said. “If you continue to act out like this, you'll go insane.” Daniel spoke slower than usual, giving each word careful emphasis. It was kind of the way the guy talked all the time.
Clark frowned. The whole thing seemed very vivid, very real. But wasn't he just a farm boy from Kansas? What would he be doing out in space? Why would he be traveling through time?
“Clark, do you understand?” Daniel asked sharply.
“Clark,” Carter said, tapping his face. “Are you still with us?”
O'Neill appeared. “Don't leave us, buddy.”
O'Neill, Carter, and Daniel faded away, almost like ghosts or Time-Blasters. Clark was back in the city. Whatever city it was.
“It's my city,” Clark decided aloud in a groggy whisper. He struggled to keep his eyes open. “I'll call it Clark City.” He grinned. “Yeah. Clark City. I like that.”
In the alley that Clark loitered in, a man appeared. It was like the man just stepped out of the wall, like there was nothing there. A very confused Clark also had an image of Chloe, dressed all in white, steppping out of a wall. Then she started spinning around in the air and running up walls like Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix.”
“Whoa,” Clark said.
Blinking his eyes, Clark shook his head. The strange vision of Chloe left him. Now there was only the man who stepped out of the wall. He had dark hair and lines under his eyes. He was dressed in a blue shirt with black pants and black boots.
Hey, Clark thought. I like blue shirts, too.
Clark shuddered. But red shirts. Red shirts are very unlucky.
“Assassins!” the man shouted in a raspy voice. “Assassins! Murderers!”
Hey, it was just like in that episode of “Star Trek,” Clark realized. The one Daniel and Carter showed him that one time. The one where Doctor McCoy showed up in the past. This guy looked just like Doctor McCoy.
Am I in a TV show? Clark wondered.
No, just part of the insanity, Clark told himself as he watched the man in blue run off. .
As voices reverberated through the alley, Clark heard the man with the raspy voice talking about how this must be a medical museum and how they opened and sewed people like garments.
When the talking stopped, Clark caught a glimpse of another man. It looked like that guy he'd seen earlier. Rodent.
As the shabby figure moved closer, Clark could see Rodent was playing with some kind of device. Then the man was engulfed in some kind of bright white energy. Clark blinked as Rodent vanished in a flash, accompanied by some weird whirring-screeching noise.
Not real, Clark told himself. Definitely not real.
As the man in blue ran off, Clark mumbled after him.
“See ya, 'Doctor McCoy.'”
BELLE REVE SANITARIUM IN THE ALTERED TIMELINE
October 7, 1947
Doctor Marcus Welby stood outside the facility, puffing away on a cigarette. He recalled the arguments he had with staff members about how the United Nations did not need to ban smoking worldwide. As a smoker, he could just do his best to keep his cigarette smoke away from others. But some staff members insisted on waving away smoke and saying “pew” even when he was not smoking.
This, he decided, might be the last cigarette he ever enjoyed.
Welby was about to start talking out loud about the U-N, the staff, and smoking when a nurse approached. “Doctor,” she said. “He's awake.”
Instinctively, Welby knew she meant “Patient X,” the mysterious patient who showed up out of nowhere eight years ago.
The nurse made a face and waved away smoke. Welby scowled as he flicked away his cigarette and stepped on it. Then his thoughts returned to “Patient X.”
When he first arrived, the patient blabbed something about how someone or something called “the Joker” had tried to turn him into “the Hulk” or “the Green Goblin” or even a “Doomsday.” Welby snorted a laugh. How could a person be turned into a day or a time period? The boy had to be crazy.
Welby recalled when the patient arrived he was sweaty and clearly disoriented, with gray and green splotches all over his arms.
Patient X was easy to remember. He was, after all, the first patient admitted to Belle Reve.
Shortly after he arrived, the patient slipped into a coma. He had been asleep for the past eight years.
Welby recalled all this as he walked rapidly to the patient's room. There, he found Patient X sitting up, his face pale and drawn. Though his eyes were only half-open, the patient was alert and responsive, though clearly babbling.
“I'm sorry,” he gasped. “I've said too much, done too much.”
“What have you done?” Welby whispered with a slight grin.
“Something I shouldn't have,” he said. As he struggled to lift his head, the dark-haired young man looked almost panicked. “I saved her. I saved Edith Keeler. I-I shouldn't have done that.” He gasped for air as his half-open eyes teared up. “I'm sorry.”
Welby thought how odd it was, the young man feeling guilty for saving someone.
Patient X spoke through gritted teeth. “Don't you see? I changed millions of lives. I changed everything. Made it worse. I destroyed Starfleet. That's exactly what he wanted.”
“Who?” Welby said. “The Joker?” He wondered if he should be playing into the young man's delusions. But it might help him talk.
As the patient reached for the doctor's blue shirt, Welby drew back.
“Is Germany ruling the world?” the patient demanded.
“No,” Welby said. “We won the Big War.”
The patient sat back, twisting his eyebrows in a look of confusion and fear.
“Nurse, make a record of all this,” Welby said. “I'll continue my break.”
“I'm Clark Kent,” the patient muttered, his head drooping. “And you're in Smallville.” Then he lay down and with a groan, he closed his eyes. .
As Welby stepped out of the room, two men in black suits approached. They looked like feds or U-N types with their black fedoras. Both held up ID badges.
The tallest of the two spoke.
“Doctor, we're here for this patient.”
Welby sighed. He might never have another cigarette.
“You ready, L?”
In the Belle Reve parking lot, the two men in black lifted Clark out of the wheelchair and carried him between them. Groaning slightly, they walked toward the ramp of the silver cigar-shaped vehicle
They then went into Mind-Meld.
When the Guardian of Forever, empowered by the Q and the Ancients, established time travel teams he (or it) also gave those team members the gift of Mind-Meld. While team members were out on missions, they could share their thoughts without any physical contact.
Mind-Meld was like a mental virtual-reality where participants could create any locale or setting they wanted for private mental chat. Although L and M were Cosmic Men in Black, not the earthbound type, they chose MIB headquarters on Earth for their mental talk..
“What I wouldn't give for a good transporter right now,” L grunted.
“It's kind of ironic,” M said with a slight groan. “We've got this super-powered guy, and he's just dead weight.”
On a monitor above them they watched as they carried Clark. As Clark hung between them, his head and body drooping, he mumbled . The mumbling was broadcast loudly over a powerful audio system.
“I saved....Edith Keeler. Sorry....didn't mean to.”
“We're all sorry, Clark,” L said quietly. .
“You know, this could be worse,” M said.
“Clark could be throwing us through the air like he has so many other people.”
“Got that right.”
“'Flying boys,'” M said, doing his Sheriff Adams impersonation.
They slipped out of Mind-Meld as they neared the ramp of the silver vehicle.
Angus MacGyver stood at the base of the ramp. He couldn't help thinking. The two Cosmic Men in Black were very skilled at time rescue missions. But in their black fedoras they also looked like the Blues Brothers.
MacGyver looked as his tricorder beeped loudly, giving off the sound of a red alert aboard the Enterprise.
“Guys?” he said in a slight panicked tone. “I'm getting a tricorder reading. There's a Terminator headed our way. And it's got a red sun laser and green kryptonite bullets.”
MacGyver dashed inside the vehicle.
“Oh, great,” M said as he shuffled faster.
“I don't think a neuralyzer will help here,” L said as the two men did a shuffling run.
“Even Clark couldn't take on a Terminator like that,” M panted as he ran as fast as he could.
“Man, he is hea-vy.”
“Less talking, more moving.”
As the silver Terminator jumped over the barbed wire fence and ran toward them, two things happened.
MacGyver threw something into the air, a ball that burst into flames. The Terminator followed it with its glowing red eyes.
About the same time a red screeching beam shot through the air and the Terminator was engulfed in white energy. It vanished in a great white glow.
The Punisher stood behind MacGyver holding a phaser over his chest.
“It might have been designed to take out Clark,” MacGyver said.
“But you can still disintegrate it,” the Punisher said.
Smiling, they high-fived each other.
Inside the timemobile, Sheldon Cooper sat in a corner curled up in a ball, rocking slightly. It was much like the time he treated Leonard and Penny as parents getting divorced.
“I don't like time rescue missions,” Sheldon said quietly.
Leonard Hofstadter grinned. “Come on, Sheldon. This is kind of exciting, it's kind of fun. You've always said how you wanted to travel through time.”
“Not like this,” Sheldon mumbled quietly. “What's next? Arkham Asylum and the Joker?”
“I think the Joker's a little busy right now.”
“Ah,” Raj Koothrappali said. “But what if the Joker actually is in Arkham Asylum, and the Joker out there is just an astral projection?”
“Or,” Howard Wolowitz said. “What if the Joker is simply a manifestation of our fears?”
Briefly, Leonard stared at them them he knelt down next to Sheldon.
“Come on, Sheldon. How can you not be excited about time travel? When you were ten years old, you wrote that play where Spock takes you into the future.”
“Spock isn't here,” Sheldon said. “If Spock was here, I'd be a lot more excited.”
“Think about it, Sheldon,” Raj said with an excited grin. “We get to meet real live superheroes.”
“Yeah, Sheldon, what's the deal?” Howard said in a slightly nasal voice. Grinning, he held out two hands much like a game show hostess. “You get to hang out with the Punisher.”
“I don't like the Punisher,” Sheldon said. “I like the Flash. If the Flash was here, I'd be a lot more excited.”
“But you get to meet Archie,” Raj said.
Sheldon, as usual, looked unhappy. “Archie comics belong in the rooms of ten year old girls.”
The engines of the timemobile rumbled.
“I get to push 'wipe,'” Raj shouted as he moved toward a yellow button on the wall.
“No, I do,” Howard said.
“It's my turn,” Raj insisted. Like two little boys, they began rapidly slapping each other with their hands.
“I'm pushing wipe,” MacGyver said firmly as he stepped into the room.
L and M entered hoisting Clark, and they put him down on a bed. It looked like one of the beds in Sick Bay on the Enterprise. Kirk's Enterprise.
“We checked him out in the other room,” L said.
“He should be safer in here,” M said.
“Safe from what?” Howard asked Raj nervously.
Sheldon looked over at the dark-haired figure lying on the Sick Bay bed.
“Is that him?” he asked.
“That's him,” Leonard said. “Clark Kent from 'Smallville.' We've seen him before with S-G-One.”
“Not like this,” Sheldon slowly rose. “You know, I never understood 'Smallville.' It's Clark Kent without Superman. What's the point?”
“Yes, Sheldon. We're all familiar with the Jerry Seinfeld routine.” Howard slipped into his Jerry Seinfeld impersonation. “What's the deal with this show Smallville? It's Clark Kent without Superman. That's like Bruce Wayne without Batman. There is no 'bat'. It's just 'man.'”
“Guys,” MacGyver said. “We're taking on another passenger. She just got here through a portal.”
Leonard made a face. “Who would we be picking up at Belle Reve?”
“Me,” someone said. A petite blonde walked into the room. She wore a white blazer and white slacks.
“Hey, guys,” she said. “I'm Chloe Sullivan.”
“Wow,” Leonard said with a big smile. “Look, guys. It's Chloe.”
As Raj and Howard argued and slapped each other, Sheldon sat down in the corner again and began gently rocking.
The timemobile roared to life. While L and M took out tricorders, MacGyver pressed “wipe.”
THIS SECTION CONTINUED IN
“TEAM MacGYVER MEETS CHLOE”