Four individuals stood on the rise of a windswept prairie butted up against the Rocky Mountains. Dominus, Bellitor, and a man named Peter Crawford and his daughter. Before them was a ranch house showing all signs of inhabitation.
“I agreed to this backwater hell hole because you said no one lived here,” Dominus growled to Peter.
Crawford held his twin phaser pistols in his hands and stared down Dominus, “No one did up until our last sweep last week. Whoever is in there isn’t my fault.” He smiled when his fourteen-year-old daughter, Carolyn, gave Dominus an equally sneer look. She’d been along for the sweep and had been meticulous in her inspection.
“Whoever they are,” she growled, “…we can help them find new accommodations.” She checked her weapons for the fourth time. Always be prepared had been her father’s motto since she’d been old enough to remember. He’d kept her safe in their rough lives, and she’d returned the favor by making any fools willing to challenge either of them suffer.
“Silence your pup,” Dominus grumbled at Peter. “Women are to be seen, not heard, especially when they are still whelps.”
Bellitor stepped in, knowing very well that this was likely to end in a brawl, “Regardless, they are here now. If we kill them, will it draw attention on us?”
Carolyn stared at Dominus but held her temper. At 14, she’d shed enough blood to fill a few buckets. She wasn’t afraid of the man, but she was afraid of what would happen if she killed him. He was useful, and they needed him. Death wasn’t on the table at the moment. So a glaring stare was what she settled on. Peter snapped his head at Dominus, “Same goes for man-children. As for the killing them part, this section of the prairie is notoriously forgetful when it comes to witnesses. Even if someone saw or heard it, they don’t want the hell that would come with it. I say we go meet the neighbors. And encourage their lives to end quickly.”
Bellitor frowned staring at the house. The last thing they needed was nosey neighbors calling the authorities before they could establish themselves and move on the Federation in San Francisco and Paris. She wasn’t opposed to killing, she had done it plenty of times to meet her goals, but she didn’t enjoy it, and never just because. “We should not kill them,” she said. “We may need them as prisoners.”
Carolyn didn’t speak; she just looked at her dad, annoyed that they weren’t in motion. Peter, for his part, nodded to Bellitor, “It’s a solid point. I can go knock on the door, set for stun, and at least get them on the ground. Then we can figure out the hell they are and what to do with them.”
Dominus growled and pulled out his phaser. “Let’s go.”
The quartet crossed the short distance to the yard. Chickens were clucking and picking through the dirt for food. It was a really nice day for Montana in early April.
A woman was at the door before they even got to the house and waited on them, shielding her eyes against the sun. “Peter? Peter Crawford, is that you?”
In his younger years, Peter might have frozen or paused in confusion. Those years were past him. He groaned, “Hells bells,” and stunned the woman, who yelped and collapsed to the ground with a grunt. Without waiting, he scampered over her body, Carolyn at his back as he charged into the doorway. An older man spun with an older phaser pistol in his hands. The Crawford daughter gave a shout as she blasted the man into a stunned heap as Peter cleared the remaining rooms with Carolyn’s help. They returned to the main room as the rest of their group filed in.
Crawford gestured with his weapon to the woman, “Aunt Tilly Crawford,” and then to the man, “Uncle Angus Crawford.” The weapons returned to their holster, and he explained, “These two have a habit of going where they’re not supposed to and doing whatever they want to get it. Tilly’s more hand to hand, and Angus, well, he’s the gunman.” He stepped over to Tilly’s prone body and, with Carolyn’s help, dragged her to the center of the room.
Bellitor looked around, “This is much too small for our needs, but it is quiet and far enough away from anything that non-random scans will out our little operation. I think we will need to go underground for much of our operation.”
Dominus grumbled, “And what am I supposed to do in the meantime? Screw the sheep like Crawford and the rest of his family?”
“I don’t give a damn what you do as long as you do it quietly,” Bellitor snapped back.
Dominus’ hand fell to his hip and his fingers wrapped around the butt of his phaser. “No woman talks to me like that!”
“Do it, and my crew will leave you here. You wouldn’t last a day before this Starfleet of whatever it is comes down on you.”
Dominus snarled, murder still in his eyes, but he took his hand off the phaser. Slapping his combadge, he snapped at the transporter operator and vanished as he returned to the ship. Bellitor smiled. She enjoyed getting under his skin. It would make that night’s adventure all the more exciting.
Turning to Peter, Bellitor glanced at the alternant versions of his family, “I trust you know what to do with them. We can use their love for each other against them and keep them silent.”
Crawford shrugged, “Dead, alive – don’t really matter to me. Car, let’s get ’em tied up and shut up.” Carolyn gave a quiet nod while keeping Dominus in her peripheral. They went to work with very little care or concern for the two.
“Peter, you have done some dilithium mining in your past, haven’t you? You know the geology in this area best; where should we start building our cloning facility? Perhaps we can hide the entrance in the barn? I would like to get Marcus down here as soon as possible to start cutting the tunnels so I can move my equipment in. Cloning isn’t an overnight process.”
Peter left Carolyn to the tying and shutting as he went to his bag and pulled out a paper map of the area, “The barn is a solid place – you can see some existing mining tunnels already exist here…here…and here. It’ll allow us some cover and some ease with getting those tunnels braced and built.” He tapped at the parts of the tunnels that were marked off in big black crosses, “Best we avoid those areas – nothing good came outta there in our reality…pretty sure geology is similar.” Carolyn sidled up beside him. She’d done well with the two alternate Crawfords. He smiled quietly, “Let’s get to work.”