"Just how much longer are we going to be stuck hanging around here, Captain?"
Commander William Riker of the U.S.S. Enterprise was becoming more than a bit testy. For the last seventy-two hours, the Federation starship had been maintaining orbit around a small Class M planet known as Myranji III in a rather depressingly desolate sector of the galaxy. A small federation colony on the planet had requested assistance in investigating some highly unusual electrical storm activity that had been building for several weeks in the planet's atmosphere. A team of scientists from the Enterprise had gone to the planet's surface to study the storm system, which appeared to have remained isolated over an uninhabited region of the planet's major land mass. And while the scientists seemed extremely excited about something they had discovered about the storm, the rest of the crew was growing restless from just hanging around.
"They've already determined that the storm, however large it is, poses no discernible threat to the colonists and is going to dissipate within a few more days. So what's the big holdup?"
"I'm not entirely sure myself, commander," Captain Picard replied, shifting in his command chair on the bridge. "The latest report I received from Dr. Sullivan, one of the scientists heading the expedition, stated that they had found out something about the nature of the storm that is of extreme importance in current astrophysics research. They say they need at least another twenty-four hours to complete their study of the phenomena, whatever it is."
"Wonderful," replied Riker.
"Well, try to contain your vast enthusiasm a while longer, commander. I'm going with Mr. Data and Mr. LaForge to visit our scientists on Myranji III to find out exactly what is going on down there that's so important and to make sure the team's work is still on schedule. You have the bridge, Number One," Picard said as he got up to leave, looking rather anxious to depart himself.
"Gee, I don't know if I can handle the excitement," Riker muttered under his breath once the Captain had left.
Somewhere in the skies over the Atlantic Ocean, nearly four hundred years in the past, a small passenger plane was heading northbound on its way to Miami. All was quiet onboard the craft, save for the soft snoring coming from the large man slumped across several seats in the back. Lieutenant Templeton Peck was keeping busy with a calculator in one hand and a small note pad in the other. Amy Allen gazed out the window, occasionally dictating notes for her next article into her portable tape recorder. Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith eased back in his seat, pulling out his last cigar and thinking back in satisfaction over the Team's latest successful mission. Meanwhile, up in the cockpit, Captain H.M. Murdock had his walkman playing at full blast, and he was happily singing along with the new calypso tape he picked up on this trip down to the Bahamas.
"So, how's it looking, Face?" Hannibal asked, as the Lieutenant finished scribbling down some numbers and closed his notes.
Face tapped his pencil on the notepad and sighed contentedly. "Well Hannibal, I think we might actually clear a little profit off of this one after all!"
"Might? Face, those corporate guys paid us our full fee, for once. Now where did all the money go?"
"Well, there were the usual expenses of course." Face fidgeted and straightened his tie. "Plus, we had to pay the hotel for the damage caused by that little incident in the courtyard with the grenades. Then B.A. insisted that we donate twenty percent our the remaining money to that Children's Hospital on the island. Oh, and don't forget, there was the small trouble at the airport-"
"Forget I asked."
"Well, at least I got a good story out of it," Amy commented. "Nothing like exposing corruption in the sunny Caribbean to grab a headline or two."
"True," Hannibal agreed. "That slimebag Morgan and his gang won't be sabotaging anymore of Southeastern Air's planes to try to blackmail his former employers."
B.A. snorted as if he was agreeing with the Colonel. A soft groan followed before he returned to his snoring.
"You sure you hit B.A. with enough of his beddy-bye drink, Face?" Amy asked, a bit apprehensive. Nothing was worse than having B.A. wake up mid-flight.
"Relax, Amy, we'll be safe and secure back at the Miami Regency before the Sleeping Beauty back there wakes up. And after that, well, he can take the bus back to L.A. if he wants, the four of us are going first class, courtesy of our dear friends at Southeastern."
Amy remained unconvinced. "I hope you're right, Face."
"Of course I'm right," Face said indignantly. "I mean, what could go wrong now?"
"I'm not going to answer that. One thing I've learned from you guys is that something can always go wrong."
The passengers returned to their quiet contemplations for a while, and Amy noticed briefly as the sky darkened and the sun sank over the horizon that a light rain had begun to streak the plane's windows. Just as Hannibal had taken a final drag on his cigar and he thought of joining B.A. in a light nap, the craft began bouncing around quite severely, as if they were passing through some very strong storm winds.
"Must be hitting bad weather," Face commented, sounding slightly concerned.
"Yeah," Hannibal agreed. "Maybe I'd better check with Murdock, see how serious it is." Just as he finished making the remark he felt his stomach turn violently as the plane suddenly dropped like it was in free-fall. After a thankfully few seconds the decent stopped, but they continued to be jostled about by the storm winds.
"I think that would be a real good idea." Amy was clenching the arms of her chair tightly and had turned quite pale.
Hannibal staggered forward, and his anxiety over their situation increased as he entered the cockpit and saw Murdock banging on the aircraft's instruments and shouting loudly.
"Will you guys cut it out and behave yourselves!" Murdock whacked at a couple of dials whose needles were spinning around rapidly. It wasn't an encouraging scene.
"I take it things are not going well, Captain?"
Murdock glanced back quickly to see Hannibal and then turned his attention back to the plane's controls. "You could certainly say that much, Colonel. Everything was just peachy till a few minutes ago, just a little ocean squall, no big deal. Me 'n Billy had it all under control. Then all of a sudden, this bird's instruments start goin' crazy! And now it feels like we're flyin' through the middle of a hurricane or something. I didn't see it coming at all."
"Where exactly are we?" Hannibal asked, dropping into the co-pilot's seat. What little he could see out of the cockpit's windows did not encourage him.
"Well..." started Murdock, his eyes wide with concern, "last I could tell, we were just southeast of Miami, maybe about a hundred miles from the coast. But right now we could be just about anywhere." Just then another strong gust rocked them and the pilot struggled to regain control of the plane.
"I don't know how much more of this abuse this plane can take, Colonel," Murdock said in a totally and unusually sane voice that Hannibal knew meant they were in real trouble.
Suddenly, the night sky lit up as intense blue and green lightning flashed all around them.
"What the--" Murdock started, but he was cut off as a second wave of the lightning hit, the light so intense that he was temporarily blinded. When his vision cleared a few seconds later, he found to his amazement that the sky was now completely clear, if an intense shade of purple, and that they were no longer over the ocean but in fact just a few thousand feet above land. He glanced to his right to see Hannibal looking equally bewildered.
"What the hell is going on?" Face hollered as he stumbled into the cockpit.
"I don't know," replied Murdock. "But I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Billy."
"Maybe we'd better make an emergency landing," Hannibal suggested.
There was a loud sputtering noise as the plane's engines died. "Probably a wise decision, Colonel," Murdock said. "OK everyone, strap in and get comfy now, this ain't gonna be a pretty sight. You too Billy, go sit in back with B.A."
Murdock searched the terrain beneath them, looking for anywhere to land the quickly descending craft. He spotted a small clearing in the densely forested, mountainous land beneath them, which sure didn't look anything like the Southeastern U.S. to him. He worked to try to head the mostly uncooperative craft towards the clearing, and drew in a deep breath as the ground rapidly approached and suddenly brought their decent from the skies to a halt.
The scientists, Geordi, Data, and Picard watched in amazement as the strange craft burst through the dark center of the storm, its arrival accompanied by a bright blast of lightning and a painfully loud burst of thunder.
"My God, what is that thing?" Geordi gasped. "And what's it doing flying through the storm? Where did it come from?"
"It appears to be a primitive mechanical flight vessel of some type. Certainly not a standard Federation model," Data commented matter-of-factly. "If the scientists are correct and the storm is in fact a space/time anomaly, the craft may have actually arrived here from another place and time."
"However it got here, Mr. Data, it looks like it won't be remaining airborne for long," Picard said, as he and the others watched the craft descend from the sky and come to a crash landing somewhere a few miles north of the scientists' camp.
"Do you think anyone could have survived, Captain?" Geordi asked. From what they could observe the crash looked like it had been a violent one.
"I don't know. But I think we had better go find out."
"Murdock, do you think you could get over here and give me a hand with B.A.? He's not exactly getting any lighter these days, you know!" Face hollered as he struggled to lift the still-snoring Sergeant out of his seat on the now quite-wrecked aircraft.
"Sorry muchacho." Murdock announced as he jumped out of the plane. "That angry mudsucker is gonna wake up any minute now, I just know it, and I don't want to be anywhere within striking distance when that happens!"
"Yeah," Hannibal agreed, following Murdock out. "For some reason B.A.'s always so cranky after a plane crash. Is everybody all right?"
"A-OK here, Colonel," Murdock said. "Billy's OK too. He just curled up in B.A.'s lap and the big guy absorbed the impact for him."
"I'm all right," Amy said, stepping out carefully and looking despondently at her broken camera equipment. "Just a few bumps and bruises. But my equipment is shot."
"I'm gonna have a hernia from lifting B.A., other than that I'm just swell!" Face gasped, dragging B.A. out of the plane. "Could somebody PLEASE give me a hand here?"
"Aw, looks like you're doin' great, kid," was Hannibal's reply. Murdock applauded Face's efforts enthusiastically.
"Thanks a lot," Face grumbled.
Satisfied that his unit was all right, Hannibal began to inspect their surroundings. They had landed in some sort of clearing on the edge of a forest, although it was a forest unlike any Hannibal had ever seen before. He couldn't identify any of the trees, or the strange flowering vines draped through them everywhere. The fact that there were two moons visible in the purple-hued sky above them did not help matters either. "This sure doesn't look like the sunny Florida coast to me. Any idea where we are, Captain?"
"Not really Colonel. One minute we're over the ocean, then the next thing I know we're here--"
"Wherever here is," Amy interrupted. She bent over to examine a strange flower by her feet. She jumped back in alarm when the "flower" suddenly decided to walk away.
"...Yeah," Murdock continued thoughtfully, gazing around. "Look, up over that hill, its more of that weird lightning from the storm!" He pointed out towards the horizon, where strange lights were flickering brightly.
"I see it," Hannibal replied, feeling increasingly uncomfortable. He reached into his pocket for a reassuring cigar and then remembered sadly that he'd smoked his last one on the plane. "Hey Face, got a cigar?"
"I'm a little preoccupied here, Hannibal!" Face yelled, still struggling with B.A.
"This place is really bizarre," Murdock commented. "I mean, even for me this place is bizarre, and I've hallucinated some strange things before, believe me, but nothin' like this..." He paused for a minute, thinking, then his face lit up as an idea came to mind. "Hey, wait a minute, we were flying through the Bermuda triangle, right? So I bet that's why we crashed! I bet it has something to do with space aliens, or, or maybe this here is in fact the lost city of Atlantis! Or maybe--"
"Grrrr rr errer.." came a rumbling from behind Face.
"Uh-oh." Face quickly dropped B.A. and rushed over to join the others. "He's coming around, what are we going to tell him this time?" Face looked to Hannibal, who just shrugged.
"Give me a cigar, then maybe I can think of something."
Face checked his jacket pockets. "Er...sorry, Hannibal, I'm all out."
"I AIN'T GOIN' ON NO PLANE!" With a loud roar and rattling of gold B.A. suddenly shook himself awake and leapt to his feet, looking around first in anger and then complete confusion.
Hannibal, Face and Amy stood together, smiling nervously and struggling to look calm. Murdock tried to hide behind them.
"Where are we? What happened?" B.A. demanded of them, then he turned around and saw the wrecked plane. "I KNEW IT! I just knew it! You put me on a plane! A PLANE! And Murdock crashed it! You guys are always putting me on planes and that crazy fool is always crashing them! Well I ain't taking it no more! This time you're gonna pay! I mean it, and that fool Murdock is getting it first!"
"Now B.A., take it easy," Hannibal said soothingly. "It wasn't Murdock's fault, really. A freak storm hit us out of nowhere, that's why we crashed. Why, if it wasn't for Murdock's superior skill as a pilot in making this emergency landing, we wouldn't be here right now!"
"Yeah B.A.," Murdock chimed in, peeking out from behind Face. "You should really be thanking me right now."
"Oh I'll thank you all right. I'm gonna thank you with this fist, sucka!" B.A. charged at Murdock, who was already running at full speed towards the nearest tree.
"Captain, I believe we have located the craft and her crew," Data announced as they approached the forest clearing. "There are five life forms visible and they appear to be humanoid-at least four of them. I am not sure about the very large one. They appear to be engaged in a rather violent disagreement, sir."
"Indeed." Picard observed the strange scene before them. Two men and a woman were trying to calm down the strange-looking dark-skinned man, who was shouting and trying to grab at the fourth man who had climbed halfway up a tree. "I believe they could use some assistance," Picard continued, and so he, Data, and Geordi proceeded forward towards the five strangers. They were much too preoccupied to notice the approaching officers.
"You'd better calm down B.A., or I'm gonna get Billy after you!" the man in the tree was yelling.
"Excuse me," Picard called loudly, "but perhaps we can be of some help?"
The group immediately stopped their bickering and struggling and turned to face the Enterprise crew, who were more than a bit shocked to suddenly find themselves facing the five large, if rather peculiar looking firearms the strangers had instantly pulled on them.
"You can start by telling us just who the hell you are," said the oldest man, who gazed coolly at Picard with crystal-clear blue eyes. "And then you could tell us where we are and how we got here."
Picard said calmly, "I am Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation Starship Enterprise. These are two members of my crew, Commander Data and Lieutenant Commander Geordi LaForge. You are on the planet Myranji III of the Myranji star system. It appears that you have arrived here through a local intense disruption in the space-time continuum." The Captain paused, seeing the puzzled faces of the strangers. "Our ship was here to investigate this unusual astronomical event when we saw you craft...well, fly right through it."
"Whoa, whoa, now wait a minute," said the younger man with light-brown hair. "What's this about a Starship? Space-time disruptions? Star systems? Is this some kind of a joke? I've never heard of anything like this before, well, except maybe from Murdock. The last thing I knew we were on Earth and caught in a bad tropical storm."
"I knew it! I just knew it!" cried the man in the tree, who jumped down to join the others. "Space aliens! I TOLD you it was space aliens that brought us here. Say, you guys wouldn't happen to know how I could get to the Dagobah system, would ya? There's an old guy named Yoda that I've been meaning to talk to --"
"Shut up, fool!" snapped the large man. "I ain't in no mood for your jibber-jabber so if you want to stay alive just shut up!"
Data turned to Picard. "Captain, based on what these men have said, their attire, their weapons and their craft, I believe that they are most likely from Earth--the United States of America, to be exact--from sometime in the late twentieth century."
"Your friend there's correct," the oldest man said. "We are from the United States. And last I checked it was still 1983." He paused for a moment. "Are you trying to suggest that we've been through a...a time warp or something? That you guys are from the future, and that we're on another planet?"
"That would appear to be the situation, yes," said Picard. "Please, if you would put away your weapons, we only wish to help you, to find out exactly what has happened. We mean you no harm, and we had nothing to do with your accidental arrival here."
The three men and the woman looked to the oldest man, who must have been their leader. After a few seconds, the man put away his firearm, and then the others did the same. "OK, Captain. I believe you. And I think we can trust you, at least for now." He walked forward, removing his black leather gloves, and extended a hand to Picard, who took it. "I'm Colonel Hannibal Smith, and this is my unit. Sergeant B.A. Baracus..." he pointed at the large black man, who growled softly, "...Lieutenant Templeton Peck..." the young-looking man smiled and pulled at his tie, "...Miss Amy Allen...." he motioned towards the woman, who kept glancing nervously around her feet, "...and Captain H.M. Murdock," he finished, pointing at the man from the tree, who had a huge grin on his face. That guy looks awfully familiar, Geordi thought to himself, although he couldn't quite figure out why.
"Well, gentlemen, Miss Allen, will you come along with us to our ship? I believe we have a great deal to discuss. And I think you might find it a most...interesting...experience," Picard said.
"I'm sure we will," Hannibal agreed with a wry smile that made Picard feel uneasy. "Come on guys, let's check this place out."
"And me without my camera," Amy sighed. "The news story of the twentieth century bites the dust."
"Picard to Enterprise. Eight to beam up."
"Beam up?! Hey, where are we goin'?" B.A. looked around, suddenly growing very concerned.
"Relax, great Baracan-One," Murdock said. "This is gonna be great! Man, am I gonna have stories to tell when I get back to the VA..."
"Say Captain, you got any cigars aboard this Enterprise?"