Time Jumpers Episode 9: Byrd's Draconis
Haunted by memories of a murdered wife and daughter, Cygnus executive officer Nathan Golich goes AWOL from a project site on Byrd’s Draconis. Golich wants to go back in time, as time jumpers can, to alter what happened. He meets an acquaintance from long ago, time pirate Kisan Malakel and, after much anguish, joins Malakel’s crew. To prove his bona fides, Golich participates in the hijack of a nearby freighter. Impressed with Golich’s loyalty, Malakel accedes to Golich’s request to head for Keaton’s World. There, the pirate ship encounters a trio of armed Time Guard jumpships, ready to shut down the pirates.
Golich convinces Malakel that “I’m the one they want.” He drops to the surface of K-World, along with Malakel and meets up with his wife who is unharmed in this time stream. But daughter Kylie is missing and when Golich searches for her, he finds himself, with Malakel, confronting the alleged murderer Henzik Tavoy. Only Tavoy didn’t murder anyone in this time stream. Instead, Tavoy is working as a landscape gardener, and has built a jerry-rigged time portal, into which Golich’s daughter Kylie has disappeared. Following his daughter though the time portal, Golich and Malakel are thrown decades into the past, to the damaged jump ship Pisces now approaching an uncharted neutron star known as The Gullet. Golich has been here before. The crew abandon ship and, as happened before, Golich is able to maneuver his escape pod to a grazing pass by The Gullet, just disturbing the local voidtime channel enough to be detected by a jumpship patrolling nearby.
Rescued and taken into custody for his desertion, Golich is resigned to whatever discipline Time Guard decides to mete out in a general court-martial. His attempts to alter the time stream in which wife and daughter were murdered has only made matters worse. But the court-martial is delayed, then set aside, for the hated enemy Coethi have at last made a long-suspected major move against the heartland of the Alliance, the Urth-Sol system itself. Golich realizes that the Universe seldom grants second chances and he figures he’d better make the most of this one.
Ninth episode in the Time Jumpers serial.