T he swirling fire filled the
center of the warehouse's high-ceilinged, double-height first floor. The flames did not
spread outwards towards the warehouse walls, nor upwards to the mezzanine half-floor
that contained rooms overlooking it, but remained contained within a circle. The blaze's
acrid smoke blocked the view of what was burning inside the ring of fire. And the roar
of the inferno drowned out any sounds that came from within it.
And then the fire suddenly burned out and self-extinguished. There were no charred
remains of anything in the area where the fire had been. The only evidence that
something had burned there was a circular scorch pattern on the warehouse floor.
Sisters Prue and Piper Halliwell stared at the empty concrete. Kelly Anderson,
formerly their junior but now considered by them their equal as a good witch, stood next
to them. Female demons who had recently killed three people had been tracked to the
warehouse. Though the three witches had not seen the demons before that day, nor had
known how many demons were involved in the killings, they knew enough about how they had
killed their innocent victims to make up a spell to vanquish them. A spell the three
witches had just used to create the fireball that had accomplished that objective.
Kelly slowly approached the scorched floor. Slim, with a slightly long but
attractive face and a blond ponytail, at a little over five foot nine she fairly towered
over the much shorter Halliwells. As she stood at the edge of the circle, Kelly felt a
sense of accomplishment. In vanquishing the two demons they had once again rid the world
Piper walked over to join her. She too felt good about what they had done. But she
also felt something else, something she couldn't quite understand. She was feeling that
somehow the evil they had followed here wasn't really gone.
While the witches had found the two demons on the warehouse's first floor, Stuart
Weston had gone up the stairs to check that no one else was on the mezzanine half-floor.
As Kelly's fiancé, he regularly accompanied her to help her fight demons. Though
a normal mortal without any powers, he nevertheless insisted on joining her to combat
evil. Just as he had done when he had been part of the demon fighting effort of the
Halliwells when he had lived in their house. Before he and Kelly had fallen in love and
he had moved out to be with her.
Stuart ran down the mezzanine hallway, opened the door to the first room and looked
inside. Windows along the right wall overlooked the warehouse floor below. Finding the
room empty, he quickly left it to check on the next room.
As he went into the second room he stopped short. An older woman was standing at the
window, staring down at Kelly and the Halliwells. She held something in her hand which
she raised to the window.
"You'll all die -" she started to say but Stuart's entrance interrupted
her. He realized she must be a third demon who had been party to, with the two
vanquished demons, the killing of the innocent people.
The demon turned to Stuart, moved her hand away from the window and held it out
towards him. In her hand was a square metal box. Two small, flat pieces of metal
extending from the box' front began to move as the demon turned something on the box'
Suddenly, Stuart felt as if two hands were at his throat. He instinctively raised
his own hands to them but nothing was there for him to grasp and pull away. Yet he felt
the grip around his throat tightening. He had to quickly get help from the witches below
or he would die. He grabbed a folding chair that stood next to him and, though choking,
with difficulty threw it at the window to get their attention. The chair smashed through
the window, sending shards of glass falling to the warehouse floor below.
Kelly and Piper, startled by the falling chair and glass, jumped back away from the
circle. Then all three girls looked up at the broken window.
"What was that?" Piper asked.
"Something..." Kelly began to say. "Stuart's up there!" she
exclaimed. She dashed to the stairs leading to the mezzanine half-floor, Piper and Prue
hurrying right behind her.
The door to the second room was open and Kelly headed straight for it. She burst in
and saw Stuart on the floor choking, his hands at his neck in a what had been a useless
attempt to free his throat.
The demon recognized Kelly and aimed the box at her. But before she could use it
Prue came into the room. She quickly waved her hand at the demon, using her telekinesis
power to send the demon flying against the far wall, the box falling from the demon's
hand and sliding across the floor. Prue waved her hand twice more, each time sending the
demon harder into the wall.
Stunned, the demon couldn't get up. Kelly, Prue and Piper quickly joined hands, then
repeated the spell they had used on the first two demons. A circle of fire appeared
again, enclosing the third demon inside of it. The smoke filled the room but in a few
seconds it, the fire and the demon were gone.
Kelly, coughing from the smoke, dropped to her knees next to Stuart and cradled him
in her arms. She called his name but he was un-conscious and didn't respond.
"He was choking," she cried. Piper dropped down next to them, pulled
Stuart from Kelly and lay him flat on the floor. She tilted his head back and his chin
up, then pinched his nose. She sealed his mouth with her own over it and began CPR
rescue breathing into his mouth.
After a minute Stuart began to cough. Piper released his mouth and together with
Kelly sat him up, propping him up against Kelly's chest.
"Stuart...Stuart," Kelly called to him.
"Just take slow, deep breaths," Piper told him.
He did as she said, coughing in between the breaths. He raised his hand to his
throat, closing his eyes in pain as he touched it.
"Let me see that," Prue said, as she kneeled down next to them. She very
gently ran a finger across the side of Stuart's throat. The skin was smooth, not a even
a red mark visible on it. "Can you swallow?" she asked.
Stuart's breathing was starting to return to normal but as he tried to swallow the
pain returned to his face.
"What did that demon do to you?" Kelly asked.
Stuart swallowed again and pointed to the box lying on the floor. Prue went over to
where the box lay and retrieved it.
"What is that?" Piper asked.
"I don't know," Prue replied as she brought it to them. The box was made
of medium grey, slightly textured metal, with rounded edges where the sides, top and
bottom came together. On the back panel was a dark red, knurled knob with a glass top, a
red light shining through it.
Next to the red knob were two larger, dark brown knobs with gold colored metal caps
and gold colored stripe position pointers. A yellow semi-circle stripe with a
directional arrow was above each of the brown knobs, the arrows pointing towards each
other and at the space that lay between them. On the front panel of the box were two
flat, outstretched metal pieces.
Prue turned the box around so that she could see the knobs and the metal pieces at
the same time.
"Apparently some kind of device," Prue replied. "The angle of
these...arms in relation to each other matches the angle of these two knobs'
positions in relation to each other."
"The demon was using this?" Kelly asked Stuart. He couldn't speak and just
nodded his head in agreement.
"Aim it at me," Piper said. "We have to know what it does."
Prue hesitated but Piper nodded her head to do it. As Prue aimed it, Piper began to
gasp, her hands coming up to her neck. Prue quickly turned the knobs in the opposite
direction of the arrows. The two metal "arms" moved away from each other.
Piper coughed twice and caught her breath.
"I'm OK," she said. "I felt like I was being choked."
"These...'arms' - for lack of a better word - were squeezing your throat,"
Prue said. "Somehow...from a distance it was choking you."
"A demon using an electronic piece of equipment to kill," Kelly said in
wonderment. "I haven't come across that before."
"Nor have we," Prue replied.
"Where did it come from? And why was she using it instead of her own demonic
power?" Piper asked.
"We're going to have get those answers," Prue agreed.
"But first we have to help Stuart," Kelly said.
"We'll get him back to The Manor, find Leo and have him heal Stuart," Prue
said. Leo was their whitelighter who, in addition to guiding them, had the power of
healing. Kelly and Piper helped Stuart up. They put their arms under his shoulders and
slowly walked him down the stairs to their car.
Stuart was lying down in one of the Halliwell Manor bedrooms. Leo's power to heal
had restored Stuart's neck and throat so that it was no longer damaged. But he was still
feeling weak so Kelly insisted that he rest.
"This red knob turns the device on and off," Prue said as she turned it,
being careful that the metal "arms" weren't pointing at anyone. "The red
light indicates it's on."
"And those other two knobs control the positions of the metal 'arms',"
Piper said, "how close they are together. And how tight their affect is on
"But how does it do that?" Kelly asked. "How did they get a demonic
power into an electronic device?"
"Who made it - and why?" Piper asked.
"I'm going to look at it carefully," Prue said, "maybe even take it
"Uh...can I talk to you for a minute, Piper?" Kelly asked.
"Sure," Piper replied. Realizing that she wanted to talk to her privately,
Piper motioned Kelly to join her in the parlor.
"You helped me make Stuart remember our being in love, after he lost his memory
about us when we returned from the alternate reality," Kelly said after they sat
down. "You cared about me and about getting Stuart and me back together."
"Of course I cared about your happiness," Piper said, "and I still
do. What's the problem?"
Kelly took a deep breath.
"Stuart," Kelly replied. "This is the third time in the last few
weeks that he's almost been killed. The fourth time if you count what happened in
the alternate reality just before we came back here."
Kelly and Stuart had been banished by demons to an alternate reality, which was also
five years in the future. It was after they had abandoned all hope of getting back to
this reality, having exhausted every spell Kelly could think of trying, that they
allowed themselves to fall in love. And eventually become engaged to be married.
But after two years of normal lives in that reality, demons appeared there. Kelly
returned to what she knew was her responsibility, to protect innocents from evil, with
Stuart with her at her side. It was at the end of their last battle that Stuart had been
wounded and left dying. It was only the suddenly discovered way of using a time-travel
watch to return to their own reality, where Leo existed and could heal Stuart, that
saved his life. But that return with the time-travel watch had cost Stuart his memory of
having been with Kelly. Piper later helped Kelly restore it to him,
despite Piper's other sister Phoebe
wanting to use his memory loss to give her a second chance to get back together with
Stuart, having bungled her first opportunity with him.
"I love him - and I can't protect him," Kelly said, a small tear forming
in her left eye. "And...he won't stay behind when I go after evil."
"No...he won't," Piper said. "We saw that when he was with us, before
you went to the alternate reality. He always insisted that he was part of what we did
and wouldn't stand aside and not help."
"He says he and I are a team, and not just emotionally and romantically,"
Kelly went on, the tear rolling down from her eye onto her cheek. "And...he's
right. We are a good team in everything we do - including fighting demons and
other evil." She paused and took another deep breath. "But I...I can't keep
letting him go where he can be..." Kelly couldn't bring herself to finish the
Piper moved over to Kelly and put her arm around her. "Any one of us could be
killed at any time fighting demons and other evil," she said. "It's something
we have to live with."
Actually, we really wouldn't have to live with it, Piper thought, if The
Elders hadn't made Charmed part of the real world, turning our Charmed
Halliwell characters, and ourselves, into real-life witches. And if they hadn't
brought Stuart along with us. And we wouldn't have to keep living with it if they
would just take Charmed out of the real world and put it back to being a TV show
- and us as its stars in it. And put Stuart back to his very normal, demon-free, life.
They brought us here to save the world from major evil - and we've done that
more times than I can count. It's way past time for them to have sent us all home.
Piper exhaled. But I can't tell Kelly about Charmed - and about how we became
the real-life Halliwells. And it wouldn't matter even if I could. It wouldn't change the
danger that we, and Stuart, keep facing as long as we're kept here.
"If I keep doing what I have to do to eliminate evil and protect innocents -
going after demons - Stuart's going to insist on coming with me," Kelly said.
"And protecting innocents is my responsibility. I won't...I can't give that
Piper thought for a moment. "You don't have to give it up. Stuart has been
through a lot lately. And you have, too, because of that. Maybe...maybe just take a
break for a little while. No fighting evil, just for a bit. So that both you and
Stuart can catch your breaths. And recuperate."
Kelly was silent for a moment then looked at Piper. "I can't. There's evil
"Out there," Piper said, finishing Kelly's words. "Prue, Phoebe and I
will handle it. It'll just be for a while."
Kelly took a deep breath, then nodded her head in agreement. "Thanks, Piper. I
knew I could come to you. You're...being like a big sister to me. Again!" Kelly was
twenty-one years old in this reality. She was actually twenty-three, when adding in the
two years she had lived in the alternate reality's future. But those years didn't
chronologically count here, as she had returned to this reality at the same instant, and
therefore the same age, she had left it. Nevertheless, Piper was still at least two
years older than her and could well fill that role.
Piper smiled. "That's exactly how I feel about you, Kelly," she said.
They returned to the living room as Prue was hanging up the phone. "That was
Phoebe. She checked into that diamond robbery."
"Morris called this morning about a robbery in the Mission District,"
Piper explained to Kelly, referring to their friend Police Inspector Darryl Morris.
"Diamonds were stolen but it wasn't clear how it was done. Just a strange symbol
where the safe was corroded, allowing the thief to get inside of it. And it hadn't been
corroded before the theft. Morris has learned that when he comes across something
strange at a crime scene, he calls us. Sometimes we can help him."
"Phoebe said it was a symbol she once saw in the Book of Shadows," Prue
said. "It was used for acid secretion, a power to generate corrosive acid. That's
how whoever it was got into the safe."
"That seems strange that a demon would care about stealing diamonds,"
"It gets even stranger," Prue replied. "The diamonds stolen were new
and recently cut. But in the same safe were the Madison Diamonds, a set of three
matching orangey colored gems that have a history going back almost seventy-five years.
They're worth more than ten times the value of the two dozen stolen diamonds. But they
"That is strange," Piper agreed. "Maybe the demon thief
figured the Madison Diamonds are well known and can't be readily sold - assuming that
was his intention."
"Except that the new diamonds were already registered using the Gemprint
method," Prue said, referring to an identification technology that records
diamonds' optical 'fingerprints'. "They'd be recognized as stolen by anyone
checking before buying them."
"None of this makes sense," Kelly said.
"No, it doesn't," Prue agreed. "Phoebe's staying there to see what
else she can find out."
"Wasn't one of the three people killed by the demons we vanquished today a
gemologist?" Kelly asked.
"Uh...yes..I think you're right," Prue said. "Maybe it was the first
man they killed, Archie Lenner."
"Were any diamonds stolen during his murder?" Kelly asked.
"We didn't look into that," Piper admitted.
"We don't know why the demons picked him to kill," Kelly said. "The
other two innocent victims were involved in organizations that helped people straighten
out their lives, something demons want to stop. But as far as we know Lenner wasn't
doing anything like that."
"It could be a coincidence," Piper began, looking at Prue.
"Yes - I don't believe in coincidences," Prue acknowledged. She took a
deep breath. "I'll go look into this now and we'll see whether there's a
connection. You work on figuring out the device, Piper."
Prue grabbed the car keys, went out the back to their car and drove off.
"This device is really strange," Piper said, "but we'll figure it out
"Actually, I want to take Stuart home. He'll rest better there," Kelly
said. "Especially being away from anything related to going after demons," she
"Right - we're keeping him away from all of that for now," Piper agreed.
"Depending on what I find examining this device I might need to go somewhere and
Prue has the car. How about I come with you in your car and help you get Stuart settled
at home. We can look at the device together for a little while, then I'll borrow your
car and come back here with it."
"Sure," Kelly replied. Piper left a note for Prue, saying where they were
going. She put the device into her pocketbook as Kelly helped Stuart stand up. He tried
to shrug her off but when she gave him a firm look he sheepishly grinned and let her
help him to the car. She eased him into the back seat and then got in next to him, as
Piper got in the front behind the wheel.
"I gave him 'orders' to take a nap," Kelly said smiling, as she came out
of the bedroom in her Russian Hill home that she shared with Stuart. A quiet residential
neighborhood, it was still close by Fisherman's Wharf, where she and Stuart loved
walking. Past the restaurants and tourist shops, they would stand by the quiet waters of
the Inner Lagoon, looking back up at Russian Hill. Then they'd stroll further down along
the bay past The Cannery to Ghirardelli Square and its view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
"Good," Piper said. While waiting for Kelly to get Stuart settled, she had
taken the device out of her pocketbook and was looking it over intently.
"I'm not sure whether I should start with the Book of Shadows or with a
screwdriver," Piper quipped.
Kelly was about to respond when Leo orbed in.
"You have to go right -" Leo began when Kelly shushed him.
"Stuart's sleeping in the bedroom so keep your voice down," she admonished
Leo made a face, showing he was annoyed that Kelly would think that Stuart's rest
was more important than what he had to say.
"There's some kind of demon and warlock activity going on in the SoMa," he
resumed, lowering his voice. SoMA was the acronym for the South of MArket district, a
mixed neighborhood of old warehouses serving the underground music scene, bars, stores -
some eclectic and others just empty - and a few museums, both small and large.
"Demons and warlocks? Together?" Piper asked. "What are they
"The Elders can only tell that something may be happening there," Leo
replied. "There have been a few demons and warlocks coming and going since
yesterday but they don't know what they're up to. That's why you have to go there now
and find out."
"Hmph...that'll be easy. I'll go over there and blend right in with them,"
Piper responded sarcastically. "I'll just say my demon battery is run down so I
can't produce energy bolts."
"This isn't funny," Leo said. "You both have to be very careful while
you're snooping around there."
"It's not both of us - I'll go myself," Piper said. "Kelly can't
"What? Why?!" Leo demanded.
"Because...I have to -" Kelly began.
"Take care of Stuart," Piper cut her off, giving Kelly a look. A look that
made it clear that their conversation about keeping her and Stuart away from demons for
a while was just between them. And not Leo's business.
Kelly took a deep breath. "This is too dangerous for you to go there by
yourself, Piper. I'll...make arrangements." Piper started to protest but Kelly held
up her hand to stop her. "Just give us the location, Leo. We'll be there as soon as
After writing down the information, Leo orbed out. Before Piper could say anything
Kelly picked up the phone and dialed a number.
"Hi - it's Kelly. Yes - I'm OK, thank you. I know it's your day off and you are
probably in the middle of doing something enjoyable. But I need two big favors from you.
I need you to come over to my house right away. And I need you to tell a big lie."
It was less than twenty minutes later when Alexis Bourné walked into Kelly's
living room. A little shorter than Kelly but still tall, Alexis had a slightly broader
build but was just as slim. She had a pretty but squarer face than Kelly's, with green
eyes and a medium complexion. Her curly, brown hair stopped a few inches above her
Alexis worked with Kelly at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, where Kelly was
an Assistant Curator. Alexis had wondered about some of Kelly's strange comings and
goings, including her showing up one day in a Coast Guard officer's uniform. But as they
were best friends she didn't push Kelly for explanations. Until Alexis was recently
kidnapped and almost killed in a demon instigated plot. After she was saved, Kelly
decided her friend deserved to know the truth about her and the Halliwells. And that she
could be trusted to keep their secret of being good witches.
"Now that I know how you spend your time off, I worry about you," Alexis
said. "Are you in danger now?"
"Not...at the moment," Kelly hedged her response, then motioned for Alexis
to come into the kitchen. "Stuart's resting and I don't want him to overhear us. I
have to go with Piper to check on some demon activity in SoMa."
"Then you will be in danger," Alexis protested.
"There's always danger with whatever we do but we'll be very careful,"
Kelly replied. "It's just reconnaissance but I can't let Piper go by herself."
Then she explained the issue with Stuart and how she and Piper had decided to keep him
safe. "So I need you to lie to him that there's a problem with tomorrow's Dixon
exhibition and I have to go in now to the museum to fix it." Maynard Dixon was an
American artist from the 1920s and 1930s, whose paintings were predominantly of scenes
from the West.
"Stuart knows I was preparing the exhibition. Tell him you're not that familiar
with it so you agreed to stay with him while he rests so I can go in and straighten out
the problem. Will you do this for me?"
"You're my best friend, Kelly," Alexis replied. "Of course I'll do it
for you. Just...promise me you'll be careful. Both of you."
"Thanks, Alexis. And yes, we'll be careful. We're not tackling the demons, just
seeing what they're up to." They walked back into the living room.
"Ready?" Piper asked quietly, putting the demon's device down on the
coffee table. Kelly nodded her head and the two girls went out to Kelly's car.
"With the mixture of what's in this neighborhood, the demons' and warlocks'
comings and goings wouldn't be noticed here," Piper said.
"There's the building," Kelly pointed, looking at the address Leo had
given them. "It's an empty, double-width storefront. Back or front?"
"Front," Piper chose. They approached the front door and Piper carefully
tried the knob.
"It's unlocked. They're probably coming and going through here," Piper
"Then let's see if we can get in un-noticed through the back," Kelly said.
They went to the corner, turned down the side street and came around to the back of
"The door's locked," Piper said, trying the handle.
"But that window next to it is slightly open," Kelly said. "Let's see
if we can open it some more." The two girls put their hands under the window and
together pushed it upwards.
"I'll give you a boost up," Kelly said. She put her hands together and as
Piper put her foot on them Kelly lifted her so she could grab the ledge and clamber over
it. Then Piper put her arms out the window and helped Kelly climb inside.
They heard indistinct voices coming from an inner room. Quietly they made their way
to a corner wall between their outer room and the inner room. In one side of the wall
was a half-partition to the inner room and they carefully peeked above it. Two figures
stood about fifteen feet away but neither was looking in the direction of the partition
and didn't notice that they were being watched.
"Do you have the payment, warlock?" the figure on the left asked.
"Right here, Nespun," the second figured replied. He took out a soft,
purple velvet pouch from his pocket. He pulled on its yellow drawstring and opened its
top, just enough so that the first figure could peek at its contents. "But first,
demon, I want to see what you've brought to sell."
Kelly and Piper watched the demon Nespun remove something from a small box that he
was holding. From their distance, it appeared to be a metal cylinder, perhaps five
inches in diameter and three inches tall.
"If a witch tries to use a spell on you, press this red button," Nespun
said. "It will omit a high frequency tone that will interfere with the witch's
words and prevent any sound to come out of her mouth. She'll be just mouthing the words
but not actually saying them. So she won't be able to cast her spell to vanquish
"That's quite useful," the warlock said. "Let me try it."
"On your own time, warlock," Nespun said. "I have one more customer
coming and I need this transaction completed before then. Hand over the payment."
He placed a cloth on a stool that stood next to them. "Pour it out."
The warlock opened the purple velvet pouch and poured its contents onto Nepsun's
cloth. Piper and Kelly clearly saw the diamonds that now lay on it.
"All new gems as required," the warlock said.
Kelly quickly took off her tan scarf from around her neck, opening it in her hands
as she concentrated on the diamonds on the cloth. In a few seconds the scarf was filled
with diamonds, too.
"I know someone who'd be interested in what you're selling," the warlock
"I have to re-stock my inventory. I'll get one extra device for your interested
party. Tell him to be here tomorrow at the same time," Nespun replied. He took the
purple velvet pouch from the warlock, poured the diamonds back into it and put the pouch
in his pocket. "The price is the same."
"What are you doing?" Piper whispered to Kelly. "Why did you
replicate the diamonds?" One of Kelly's unique powers was replication. If she
concentrated on something she was seeing, she could precisely replicate it.
"If that...thing the demon gave to the warlock is real, we can't let him keep
it," Kelly replied in a whisper. "Follow the warlock, freeze him and take it
away from him. I'll follow Nespun. We have to know where he comes from and where he got
that thing. I'll use my locating power to follow him."
Piper thought for a moment. "I remember that power of yours. If you touch
someone's hand and immediately say a short spell, you can find wherever that someone
"Within forty-eight hours," Kelly added. "And I'm going to touch his
"How?" Piper asked.
"By being the second buyer that he's expecting," Kelly answered, as she
carefully folded her scarf so that the diamonds wouldn't fall out, then put the scarf in
her pocket. "When I give him these diamonds as payment I'll touch his hand."
"That's too dangerous," Piper said. "That other buyer - a demon or
warlock - could walk in while you're there."
"I'll have to risk it," Kelly whispered back. "We have to know where
he's from. As soon as I've made the purchase I'll leave, then follow Nespun. I'll call
you, tell you where Nespun went and you can meet me there." Kelly flipped open her
clamshell Motorola StarTAC cell phone to be sure it was charged, then closed it and
clipped it back onto her belt.
"I don't like the risk you're -" Piper whispered but stopped. The warlock
was about to leave. If they were going to do this there wasn't time to argue about it.
"Quick - out the back window," Kelly whispered. "You follow the
warlock when he walks out. I'll come in the front door the way Nespun's buyer
would." They helped each other out the back window, then raced around to the front
of the store. The warlock had just walked out of the storefront. "Go!" Kelly
"Be careful," Piper replied and began to follow the warlock. Kelly took a
deep breath, opened the store's front door and walked inside.
She made her way to where Nespun was standing, his back towards her. At the sound of
her approach he turned around.
"Who are you?!" he demanded.
"Your buyer," she replied. Nespun looked her over from head to toe.
"Hmm. I wasn't expecting someone so...attractive," he said.
"And I wasn't expecting someone who would care about my looks. I'm here for a
business deal...and nothing else." Kelly gave him a hard look into his eyes.
Nespun took a deep breath and exhaled. "Show me what you have," he said.
Exuding self-confidence, Kelly walked over to the stool that was next to Nespun. She
took the tan scarf out of her pocket, placed it on the stool and opened it. Nespun
looked at the diamonds that glittered in front of him. He picked up one and examined it,
"These look identical to the diamonds another buyer just paid me," he
said, putting them down. "And diamonds are always different." His tone was ice
cold. "You're trying to pull something."
Kelly gave a small chuckle. "Diamonds aren't different when they come from the
same cluster. Your other buyer - the warlock - was lazy. He just grabbed what he saw in
the front. He didn't bother to look at what was hidden behind it in the back of the
safe. I did. The other half of the cluster. And they certainly will look
"You followed that warlock to get diamonds?" Nespun asked in surprise.
"Why do extra work when I can just piggy-back off a warlock," Kelly
answered. "And a lazy one at that. I knew he would find newly cut diamonds and take
the first ones he would get his hands on. I figured there would be more he wouldn't
bother to look for. And I was right."
"Very clever," the demon said, admiration evident in his voice. He put his
hand on the diamonds again.
"Now we stop until you show me what you have," Kelly said, grabbing
his hand and lifting it off the diamonds. As she did she saw a triangular shaped ring,
with red crystals inside of it, on his finger. It seemed familiar to her but she
couldn't remember where she'd seen it before. He exhaled, then took his hand back and
turned to a small box on the floor next to him. As he did, Kelly turned her head to the
side and quickly and quietly said the short locating spell.
"This will be useful for you," Nespun said. He opened the box and removed
a small rectangular object. Kelly saw it was made of grey metal, with soft corners. Two
round opening were on the object's front. As Nespun turned it around, she saw two
eyepieces on the back.
"When you want to kill someone, be it a witch or a normal human, aim the device
at him and press the red button on the top," Nespun began. "That will shoot a
miniature dart at him. Even if he breaks it off, the tip of the dart will be under his
skin. If he runs into the dark, just hold the eyepiece to your eyes and press the green
button. The outline of his image will be visible to you. So he can't hide in the dark
and you can find and kill him."
"At what distance?" Kelly asked.
"One hundred feet," the demon answered.
"That is useful," Kelly said. Nespun put the device down on the
floor, then took out the purple velvet pouch the warlock had given him. He poured
Kelly's diamonds from her scarf into the pouch, then closed the yellow drawstring
"Our business is done," he said. Keeping her eye on Nespun, Kelly knelt
down and, feeling for the device with her hand, picked it up. She stood up and wrapped
her tan scarf around it, tying it securely. She walked past the demon, half-turned so
she could see what he was doing, until she reached the door and walked outside. Crossing
the street, she went to the corner and found a hidden spot from which she could see the
entrance to the abandoned store and know when Nespun left it.
After five minutes Kelly started to worry. The demon said there was one more buyer
and Kelly had filled that role, as far as he was concerned. No one else had walked into
the store so the real buyer hadn't come yet. So why hadn't Nespun left? Kelly closed her
eyes and concentrated.
"No!" she said after a few seconds. "No, no!" She opened her
cell phone and dialed Piper. But as she was following the warlock, Piper didn't want her
phone ringing and giving away her presence and had turned it off. And so Kelly's call
went to voicemail.
Kelly exhaled as she waited for the voicemail greeting to end. "Piper, it's
Kelly. I used my spell to know how to find Nespun. It worked and I do know but
it's...it's not just where he went. It's when he went. He's gone back in
time. I can't wait for you to come here. If I don't follow him right now and he leaves
the place where he went the spell won't help me find him. Going back in time will make
it more than forty-eight hours from when I said the spell and it won't work anymore.
I'll have lost him." Kelly paused.
"I remember your time travel spell that you gave me to use two years...uh, a
few weeks ago." It was actually two years ago, before Kelly was banished to
the alternate reality. But in this reality, from Piper's perspective it had been
just a few weeks. "Don't tell Stuart what I'm doing. And...wish me luck."
Kelly went around the corner and found an alley. Checking that no one was looking,
she said the time travel spell. And disappeared.
Kelly found herself in a dark room. A tiny sliver of diffused light came in through
a crack in a boarded up window. It was just enough for her to see that she was alone in
the room. Had she been too late? Had Nespun already left this place, wherever it was?
Then she heard a slight noise. In the darkness she could barely make out a door
along the far wall. The sound had come from the other side of that wall. Quietly she
made her way to the door and tried the door knob. It turned and slowly she opened the
This second room was pitch black. The light in the first room was so slight that
leaving the door between the rooms open did not help. The sliver of light didn't reach
inside this second room. Kelly could see nothing.
Suddenly two hands grabbed her from behind. She was spun around and a fist connected
with her chin. She staggered and the hands came for her again. But Kelly turned and
kicked her leg hard against the back of her opponent's knees, knocking the legs out from
under her adversary. She heard her opponent hit the floor. Kelly tried to take the
advantage but her adversary quickly got up. Two hands grabbed Kelly's arm and, using
Kelly's body as leverage, whirled her around and flung her against a wall.
Stunned, Kelly used the wall to keep herself from sliding down to the floor. As she
did her arm felt a switch on the wall. She raised her hands to protect herself and used
her elbow to push the switch up. A light went on.
Kelly's opponent was a girl.
The two stood within three feet of each other, staring at each other, their fists
"You're...not Nespun," Kelly said, catching her breath.
"Who?" the girl asked.
"Nespun," Kelly replied. "I followed him here."
"I don't know who Nespun is," the girl said in a clear, articulate English
accent. "I followed someone here whose name I don't know. I caught a glimpse of the
back of his head before he came into this building. You're not him!"
The two girls looked at each other, then cautiously put down their fists. The
English girl was about two to three inches shorter than Kelly, with dark brown, curly
hair that reached almost to her shoulders and styled with a side part. She wore a light
blue tailored top with grey trousers and a semi-wide, dark belt. And deep red lipstick
on her lips.
"Why were you following this Nespun?" the English girl asked.
"He's been selling things to demons...er, to evil people," Kelly answered.
"Dangerous things that are weapons...of a sort."
"The man I was following has been stealing weapons," the English
Kelly thought for a moment. "Could we both be after the
same...individual?" she asked.
"That does seem to be a distinct possibility," the English girl replied.
Kelly's body relaxed and she extended her hand. "I'm Kelly Anderson."
The English girl hesitated for a moment as she looked Kelly over very carefully.
Then satisfied, she put out her hand to shake Kelly's. "I'm Peggy Carter."
"Do you know who's been working with Nespun to steal the weapons?" Carter
"No...I'm not from here," Kelly replied.
"Then how did you follow him to this place?" Carter asked.
"I have...tracking skills," Kelly said. "Do you know where Nespun has
been getting these...weapons?" Kelly asked.
"Yes. They've all been stolen from Howard Stark," Carter replied.
"Who's that?" Kelly asked.
"Howard Stark. You don't expect me to believe that you don't know who he
is?" Carter asked with skepticism in her voice.
"I told you I'm not from here," Kelly said.
"You don't have to be from Los Angeles to know of Howard Stark." With her
English pronunciation, it came out sounding Los Angeleese. "All of America
and most of Europe know who he is."
"I've...been away," Kelly replied. She knew that wouldn't satisfy Carter
if Stark was as famous as she said he was. Carter eyed her curiously. Something about
Kelly Anderson wasn't adding up.
"Howard is probably the greatest inventor alive," Carter replied.
"His work on critical projects was essential to winning the war."
"And that's what Nespun stole?" Kelly asked.
"Howard kept developing various devices, many of which weren't ready in time to
be produced and used in the war," Carter replied. "Just the prototypes exist.
And yes, those are what this Nespun, as you call him, stole."
"And you followed him here...with the devices?" Kelly asked.
"Last year, all of the prototypes were stolen by Leviathan, a conspiracy of
Soviet Union spies," Carter explained. "Thousands of lives were in danger. I
helped get the inventions back. Afterwards, Howard had to promise the government he'd do
something to protect against that happening again. To keep that promise, he developed a
tracking device that he soldered into every one of his inventions. Amazingly small but
it can't be removed without destroying the device, which would make the weapon useless.
"Even if they would be stolen again, which we didn't expect to happen, we could
find them. But once some were stolen again, we began to worry that there were
more agents in Leviathan than we had realized. And they were making a second attempt to
get and use Howard's devices. The man I saw - or the back of the man's head I saw - had
two of those devices."
"Was it well known that trackers were put into the devices?" Kelly asked.
"Howard announced it at a government arranged press conference," Carter
answered. "It was part of what he was required to do to make the public feel
"So Nespun knew he couldn't get away with using the devices here - though he
might quickly try out just one of them - and he couldn't keep them," Kelly said.
"At least, not here where they would be tracked. But he could keep them
where they couldn't be tracked..."
"There isn't any place where they couldn't be tracked," Carter
countered. "Howard's tracker works across an incredibly long distance over land and
"Across distance of land and water. But not across..." Kelly, talking to
herself, left the sentence unfinished.
"Not across what?" Carter asked. "Even if the device was up in an
aeroplane..." She stopped when she saw something on the floor near the far wall.
"What's that?" she asked. Kelly saw it was her StarTAC cell phone. It had
fallen off of her belt clip while they were fighting. She went over to retrieve it but
Carter was faster and picked it up first.
"This came from you," Carter said. "It wasn't here when I came into
the room. The light was on then and I looked all around. I shut the light after I heard
you in the outer room." She fingered the small antenna. "Is this a
walkie-talkie? It's quite small." She played with it and opened the clamshell lid.
"Buttons with numbers and letters...just like on the dial of a telephone,"
she said. "But there's no dial." She looked at the small display. "It
says 'No service'. Whatever this is can't work in here?"
"Give it to me," Kelly insisted but Carter ignored her. She pressed a
button and the display read "Phone Book". She pressed another button and names
followed by numbers were displayed.
"A phone book with names and numbers," Carter said slowly. "But
they're different from regular phone numbers. There aren't any letters for the
exchanges. And there are ten digits for each phone number."
Carter looked it over carefully.
"It says 'StarTAC' and 'Motorola' on the inside and on the cover. Motorola
makes fine home radios and walkie-talkies that we used during the war. But they don't
have anything like this. Even Howard doesn't."
Carter pressed a button and the phone book disappeared, then pressed a second
button. The display read "Aug 04 2000". She showed it Kelly.
"Today is May 17th," Carter said. "1947!" she added with
Kelly exhaled. "I know it is," she said defensively.
"It's...broken." Carter grabbed Kelly's arm and twisted it around so she could
see her watch.
"Your watch has a date on it, which also says August 4th. They can't
both be identically broken," Carter said. She released Kelly's wrist, closed the
StarTAC cell phone and handed it to Kelly. "Where are you from?!"
Kelly took a deep breath. "You won't believe me if I tell you."
"I'm an agent with the Strategic Scientific Reserve," Carter replied.
"I've seen amazing scientific advancements. And I've also seen many of Howard's
inventions. Whatever you say won't faze me."
Kelly looked into Carter's eyes. "Where I'm from is San Francisco,"
Kelly said, then paused. "The date you saw...is when I'm from."
"I don't believe you," Carter said with strong conviction. "For a
while Howard was fascinated with the possibility of time travel, to use in the war
effort. He finally came to the conclusion that the laws of physics would prevent any
machine from manipulating time. While Howard may occasionally be a bit creative with the
truth, he's never done that when it came to matters of science. He said a time machine
can't be built. And so time travel is impossible!"
"My presence here proves that it is possible," Kelly said.
"Proves? You haven't proved anything. Where is your so-called 'time machine'
that brought you here?" Carter demanded.
"I don't have one," Kelly replied. "Your Howard Stark was right about
that. No one has invented a time machine."
"Yet you claim you're from the future," Carter countered.
"I am. From 2000. But I didn't use a time machine to get here."
Kelly hesitated. "I used a spell."
"A spell?" Carter asked, looking at Kelly quizzically.
"A witch's spell," Kelly replied. "I'm...a witch."
Carter's expression changed from uncertainty to disbelief to challenging. "A
witch...as in children's fairy tales' evil witches?"
"A witch...as in real-life witches," Kelly answered. "But a
good witch, with a responsibility to save people. I understand that things that
seem impossible are hard to accept."
"Miss Anderson, I've seen Zero Matter created from an atomic bomb test. Hostile
exposure to the Zero Matter would dissolve a person. An explosive exposure to it would
remove a person's physical form, making him invisible.
"But these were physical effects and the laws of physics, though in a
different way, applied to them. Howard figured those out. That is not the same as a
witch and her 'magical power'."
"Look," Kelly said, getting frustrated, "I came after Nespun and he
was here. The more time I waste with your questions the more time he has to get away. If
you want to work together with me that will make things easier. If you don't want to,
then I'm going while I can still try to find him."
"If you are from the future, then you should know all about
Howard," Carter said. "Besides being an inventor he's also a movie director.
Didn't you learn history in - 2000?"
"Yes - in art," Kelly replied. "I'm the Assistant Curator in the de
Young Museum. Stuart, my fiancé, is....was, a history teacher. He would know
about your precious Howard Stark." Stuart had taught high school history in the two
years he and Kelly had lived in the alternate reality.
"Show me one magical witch...thing," Carter challenged her.
Kelly took a deep breath. Then she concentrated on Carter's dark belt. After about
ten seconds a black belt appeared in Kelly's hands. "It's my power of
replication," Kelly explained.
Carter looked at the belt for a few seconds. "Though I like my belt it's
common. Perhaps you had one under your jacket. With a bit of slight of hand..."
Kelly exhaled in frustration. "Oh for goodness' sake." She turned to the
wall and concentrated on the light switch. After a few seconds, an identical switch
appeared in her hand. "Do you think I walk around with this in my
Carter carefully examined the switch. "Very well Miss Anderson. I can
accept proof of new things. Though Howard may prove to be less accepting."
"No - you can't tell him when I'm from. You can't tell anyone when I'm
from," Kelly said firmly. "Traveling through time has risks of changing the
timeline. Even small changes can affect the future."
"Yet you came here knowing the risk," Carter pointed out.
"The future was already being affected by Nespun," Kelly replied.
"It's my responsibility to protect people from evil like him - whatever risk I have
to take to do that."
"Very well. We'll try to keep it your way, Miss Anderson."
"Thank you. And as we'll be working together, please call me Kelly."
Carter half-smiled. "Only if you call me Peggy."
"Agreed," Kelly said. "Now can we -"
They heard a noise in the adjacent outer room. Peggy quickly shut the light. Kelly
quietly moved towards the door. Standing opposite Peggy, they were in position to
together take down whoever came into the room. They heard someone come through the
doorway, followed by footsteps. Peggy flipped the light switch and the two girls
converged on the figure.
"Miss Carter, please! It's only me."
"Indeed it is," Peggy said, a trace of disappointment in her voice.
"It's all right, Kelly. This is Mr. Jarvis."
Seeing Peggy relax, Kelly did the same.
"Mr. Jarvis is Howard's trusted butler, upon whom he relies for other duties,
as well," Peggy explained. "This is Kelly Anderson."
"It is my pleasure to meet you, Miss Anderson," he said. Tall and slim, he
was in his late thirties and had a refined English accent.
"I often rely on Mr. Jarvis myself," Peggy added.
"It has been my privilege to be of assistance to Miss Carter on a few
occasions," Jarvis said.
"Why did you come in?" Peggy asked. "You were to wait in the
"I saw a man walk out," Jarvis answered. "The tracker didn't point to
him and I didn't quite know what to make of him. I waited a few minutes until he hopped
on to a trolley car. I briefly thought of following him but as I said, he hadn't
triggered the tracker. And when you didn't come out, I thought it best to...see that you
were all right."
"And that I wasn't lying un-conscious on the floor," Peggy said with a bit
of frustration. "That man you saw take the trolley car was most certainly the one
we were after."
"Oh...I'm terribly sorry Miss Carter," Jarvis said. "I seem to have
let our thief get away."
"You meant well, Mr. Jarvis," Peggy replied. "Miss Anderson is
familiar with him. She'll be working with us to track him down and uncover who else in
Leviathan is assisting him."
"I don't believe Nespun to be part of Leviathan," Kelly said as they
started to leave the room. "But tell me about it, anyway."
On the way to the car, Peggy gave Kelly a quick summary of her encounter with the
Soviet Union spies the previous year.
Jarvis got in the front seat behind the wheel. Peggy and Kelly got into the back
"What's that?" Kelly asked, pointing to a piece of equipment on the front
seat next to Jarvis.
"That's the device tracker," Jarvis answered. "I turned it off before
I went into the building." He turned a dial on it. Suddenly the equipment emitted a
beeping sound. Two screens on it displayed some information.
"That's odd," Jarvis said, then turned around to face the back seat.
"The tracker is pointing at you, Miss Anderson."
Peggy's body tensed as she turned to Kelly.
"Wait - I forgot," Kelly said. She put her hand into her jacket pocket,
took out her scarf and opened it on her lap. "I bought this from Nespun earlier
today...uh, that is, before I came here." Kelly realized that in the timeline she
had actually bought it not earlier but much later - in the future.
"That's one of Howard's devices," Peggy confirmed. "How did you pay
"In diamonds," Kelly replied.
Kelly was absorbed in thought during the ride from the warehouse. She hadn't been in
LA since she was a fifteen year old teenager. A wave of emotional nostalgia came over
her as the image of a photograph from that trip, taken by her father in Griffith Park,
the city's oldest and largest parkland, came to mind. In the picture, which her father
had kept on his desk, she was wearing Mary Janes with white socks, Kelly green shorts -
even at that age she already had an affinity for her namesake color - and a jonquil
Hollywood t-shirt, a panoramic view of the city stretched out below visible
It was a happy and generally carefree time in her life. She had felt so content in
the closeness she enjoyed with her father. Though she knew that she was a witch, she was
considered too young to be called upon to use her powers. Her life's responsibility to
combat evil and protect innocents, and her knowledge of and relationship with, and her
crush on, her whitelighter Leo, were still over four years away.
Kelly took a deep breath. She wanted to be back there again. But though she had time
traveled back and was now in the past, there were some pasts that you couldn't go back
She resumed looking at the scenes that surrounded her as she rode in the open
convertible. She remembered some of the buildings and neighborhoods as they passed by
but others were new to her. Or perhaps, she thought, some had changed or no longer
existed when she was last here, forty-seven years in the future.
"This is a beautiful...uh, home," Kelly said as they turned off the
street and drove up the driveway. She was even more impressed by the palm trees,
surrounding the outdoor swimming pool in the inner courtyard, and once inside,
by the half dozen rooms
they passed on their way to a spacious living room.
"It's Howard's Los Angeles mansion," Peggy replied. "He let's me stay
"Howard Stark is generous, to say the least," Kelly remarked.
"I expect that you'll be staying here as well while in Los Angeles, Miss
Anderson," Jarvis said.
"I, uh, don't know how long I'll be, uh, in LA...." Kelly began.
"You'll be here until we catch Nespun and his associates," Peggy
interrupted her. "Yes, Mr. Jarvis, Kelly will be staying with us."
"Delightful," Jarvis replied. "I'll prepare a room. Tea?" he
"Thank you," Kelly said as he placed the tea service on the coffee table.
"When were the devices stolen?" Kelly asked.
"We don't know. Sometime within the past three days," Peggy replied.
"Isn't the building where they're kept guarded?" Kelly asked.
"Yes, but the guards did not see anyone break in," Peggy answered.
"Howard had been regularly checking the room where he keeps the devices. But the
last few days he hadn't because he was occupied...entertaining."
"Hollywood parties - I've heard they can be extravagant," Kelly remarked.
"This was a party of one," Peggy said derisively. "Which
actress was it this time, Mr. Jarvis? Lana Turner? Joan Leslie? Jennifer Jones?"
"I believe Mr. Stark's guest was Miss Hedy Lamarr," Jarvis replied.
"In addition to her, uh, other talents, she's also an inventor, which gave them
more in common to talk about."
"As if Howard ever lacks what to say to a beautiful woman," Peggy
"If there is nothing else now, I'll go assist Ana," Jarvis said. "My
wife," he explained to Kelly.
"That's fine, Mr. Jarvis," Peggy said and he left the room.
"Now that we're alone and you don't feel inhibited speaking about your
circumstances, how did you manage to purchase that device from Nespun?" Peggy
"He's been selling your devices to warlocks and demons," Kelly said.
"I posed as one of them - his customer."
"Warlocks? Demons? Who are they?" Peggy asked.
"Evil beings with powers they use to cause death and destruction," Kelly
"You mean they're not human?" Peggy asked, cautiously.
"Demons and those similar to them aren't. Warlocks are sort of human - just
think of them as witches who have gone over to the evil side."
"And Nespun is a demon?" Peggy asked. Kelly nodded her head in agreement.
"Why was he selling them? And how and why in your year 2000? Demons can travel
through time just as you do?" Peggy asked.
"Demons don't all have the same powers," Kelly began. "I've only come
across two others who could time travel. One wasn't even a demon but a siren - yes,
sirens do exist. She kidnapped my fiancé Stuart to the past. My friends and I
rescued him. The other was a demon who went back in time and kidnapped me when I was
nine years old to kill me. These same friends rescued me from him."
"That must have been very traumatic for you," Peggy said, sympathetically.
Kelly hesitated for a few seconds. "I've put that experience behind me. As to
why Nespun is selling Stark's devices, I don't know. But he clearly knows he can't sell
them in 1947 because you'll track them down and then he'll have very angry customers
coming after him."
"And you don't believe he has a connection to Leviathan," Peggy said.
"Not from what you've told me about them. It doesn't make sense that they would
still be around in 2000," Kelly answered. "I certainly never heard of them.
And Russia then isn't what it is in this time - uh, I really should limit what I tell
you about the future. The timeline can be fragile."
"I suppose I shall have to accept the timeline's safety limitations placed on
what I can know," Peggy said, sounding unhappy but resigned to that restriction.
"What powers besides time travel does Nespun have? I want to know what I'm up
"There isn't any way to know for sure. Just consider him extremely
dangerous," Kelly answered. "One power he doesn't have is shimmering.
That's the ability to teleport from one place to another. You saw him walk into
the warehouse. And Mr. Jarvis saw him walk out of it and then take the trolley
car. He has to use conventional means to get around."
"That puts us back to the question of how he got into Howard's storage room to
steal the devices without being seen. And how to find him now," Peggy added.
"I have a way to do both," Kelly answered. "I know where he'll be
tonight. I heard him say to a warlock to tell a potential new customer to be at the same
place tomorrow at the same time. That is, tomorrow in 2000. He also said he has to
replenish his stock and will get something extra for that new customer while he's doing
"However he's stealing the devices he's surely not doing it in broad daylight.
We'll spend the night inside the storage room waiting for him," Peggy said.
"What's the connection of the diamonds to this? Are all of Nespun's...customers
paying him the same way?"
"It appears that way. I used my replication power on a warlock's payment so
that I could have my own diamonds to buy that device," Kelly answered. "And he
told the warlock that the new customer's payment has to be the same."
"We have all afternoon to look into that," Peggy said. "Let's see if
my friend Daniel Sousa can help. He's Chief of the Los Angeles Branch of the Strategic
Alexis sat down on the sofa in Kelly's living room. Stuart was still sleeping so she
didn't have to do anything for him - nor tell him a lie about Kelly. She was about to
pick up a magazine when her attention was drawn to the device Piper had left on the
table. Alexis stood up, went over to the device and picked it up.
Not knowing what the device did, her museum training of carefully and gently
examining new objects prevented her turning any of the dials. She held the device
between her thumb and middle finger and looked over all of its details.
Alexis had a good mind. It didn't take her long to figure out the functions of the
knobs and their relationship to the 'arms.' And from where the device had come.
The doorbell rang. Alexis put down the device and went to see who was there. Seeing
that it was Prue, she opened the door, then motioned for her to keep her voice down.
After walking into the living room, Alexis
quietly explained to Prue that Stuart was sleeping.
"What did you learn?" Alexis asked. Prue gave her a questioning look.
"I'm in the middle of this so I may as well know something about it."
Prue hesitated. Then she told her about the strange diamond robbery that Phoebe had
gone to check on and their suspicion about there being a diamond connection to the
"New diamonds were missing from the dead gemologist's office. It looks
like the demons picked him to kill in order to get those diamonds," Prue said.
"So we have demons robbing and killing for diamonds and we have no idea why.
"And then there's that device that the demon was using," Prue added,
pointing to it. "We're trying to figure out how a demon made it and imbued it with
demonic powers. And why."
"A demon didn't make that device. It was made in the 1940s," Alexis
"The 1940s? What...how do you know that?" Prue asked.
"Before I came to the de Young Museum, I worked for seven months at the Museum
of American Heritage in Palo Alto," Alexis answered. "The museum specializes
in technology and inventions from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. I
learned quite a bit while I was there."
She picked up the device. "The soft, rounded edges where the sides come
together, and the medium grey textured metal, were pretty much standard on equipment
back in the 40s. As were the Bakelite knobs with their distinctive dark brown
"How did it get from the 1940s to a demon today?" Prue wondered. "And
with demonic powers in it?"
"It doesn't have demonic powers," Alexis said. "At MOAH, as the
museum is called, I helped the Curator put together an exhibit about the technology of
World War II weapons. Most had became commonly known after the war - like the AZON
radio-controlled guided bomb and the Norden bombsight - but some were very advanced and
quite strange. Almost all in that latter group never got past the prototype stage. And
none of them were ever made public.
"This device was one of those in that group. We had a picture of it in the
exhibit. It wasn't made by a demon. It, along with the other devices in that group, were
all made by Howard Stark."
The afternoon LA sun shone brightly as Peggy and Kelly stood on a Hollywood street
corner. The sign above the entrance to the building read Auerbach Theatrical Agency.
Peggy opened the door and led Kelly inside. A woman sitting at a reception desk
looked up. She smiled when she saw Peggy but her expression changed to concern and alert
when she saw Kelly.
"It's OK, Rose. Kelly Anderson, this is Rose Roberts," Peggy said in
introduction. "Kelly is working with us on the theft of Howard Stark's
"Pleased to meet you," Rose said, standing up from her desk. She was a
somewhat heavy-set woman in her forties, with red hair and glasses.
"Likewise," Kelly replied.
"The theatrical agency is the SSR branch's front," Peggy explained to
Kelly. "Rose is our very able gatekeeper. And a trained SSR agent who can work in
the field, as well."
"Only when they let me out from behind this desk," Rose complained.
Peggy led Kelly through a door in the back, then through a maze of desks until
coming to an office door. Peggy knocked and went in.
"Hello Daniel," she said to the man seated behind the desk.
"Hi Peggy -" he began, then saw Kelly standing beside her. He gave Peggy a
"This is Daniel Sousa, SSR Los Angeles Branch Chief. Daniel, this is Kelly
Sousa looked at Kelly. "Hello," he said, clearly alarmed at Kelly's
"Kelly, would you give us a moment please?" Peggy asked.
"Sure," Kelly replied and walked outside.
"You brought someone into headquarters?" Sousa asked with astonishment.
"Kelly is working with me on locating Howard's devices and who's been stealing
them," she replied. "She brings unique talents and skills that we need for
"Such as?" he asked.
Peggy hesitated. "I can't go into her background. Just trust me on this,
Daniel," she said.
"I need to know -" he started to say but Peggy had come around the desk.
She put her arms around him and before he could say anything more planted a long kiss on
his lips. When the kiss ended she said "Just trust me, Daniel."
Sousa looked deeply into Peggy's eyes and took a deep breath.
"OK," he said. "Bring her in." Peggy went to the office door and
motioned for Kelly to join them.
"What have you learned?" Sousa asked.
"I followed someone who had some of the devices to a warehouse but he eluded
us," Peggy said. "Thanks to Kelly, we know his name is Nespun and that he's
been selling Howard's devices for diamonds."
"Diamonds? Not cash? That's odd," Sousa said. "Cash is
"These diamonds are untraceable, too," Kelly added.
"That makes finding him harder," Sousa said.
"Perhaps not," Peggy replied. "I'm sure you have contacts in the
diamond business. Contacts from whom you can learn which dealer has suddenly come into a
significant amount of new diamonds in the past two or three days that he's looking to
Sousa thought for a moment, then nodded his head in agreement. "I'll send a
couple of the boys around right now."
"Thank you, Daniel," Peggy said and started to lead Kelly out of his
"Where are you off to?" he asked.
"To have a substantial meal," Peggy replied. "Kelly and I have a long
night ahead of us."
"Wait a minute," Sousa said. "I don't like bringing a civilian along
if you're planning something that's dangerous. I'll come with you, instead."
"Thank you, Daniel," Peggy said. "You know how much I always
appreciate your presence. But in this case, I need Kelly's...skills. And three people
will be one too many."
Sousa gave her an unhappy look.
"But if having a civilian involved is a concern, make Kelly a Special SSR
Agent," Peggy said. "You have the authority as Chief to do that."
Sousa was about to protest that he couldn't make someone about whom he knows nothing
an SSR Agent. But he was close enough to Peggy that when he looked at her he could read
her mind. Just trust me it was saying. He hesitated for a moment, then opened the
bottom drawer of his desk, pulled out a badge and flipped it to Kelly.
"Don't make me sorry that I'm doing this," he warned them.
"This is delicious," Kelly said and took another bite of her Bedfordshire
Clanger, "and interesting. A sweet filling on one end and a savory filling on the
"Preparing excellent English cuisine is another of Mr. Jarvis' talents,"
Peggy said, as they ate in the mansion's dining room. "Though when I'm not here he
doesn't often get to do that. Howard is very American in his culinary tastes."
"Then that's a shame," Kelly said, "that his brilliant mind doesn't
extend to his palate."
"Howard feels that between his inventing new devices - and inventing new ways
to have female company - his brilliant mind is quite busy enough." Kelly was only
half successful in restraining a grin from her face.
"After dinner they'll be enough daylight to get to Howard's facility and hide
out in the storage room that has the remaining devices," Peggy said. "And wait
for Nespun to show up."
"We'll learn how he's been getting in there," Kelly added. "And then
I'll vanquish him."
Kelly and Peggy sat on the floor behind a low cabinet. Though they were hidden by
it, they were not taking any chances of warning Nespun of their presence. Though just
below the wall light switch, they sat in the pitch black room, not even a small
flashlight shining to relieve the darkness. And they didn't speak aloud, whispering in
each other's ear to be sure that neither dozed off.
Kelly put her hand around her watch, to prevent any glow from being visible by
anyone else, and looked at the time. Half-past twelve. They had been sitting there for
almost four hours.
"Patience," Peggy whispered in her ear. Kelly nodded her head in
agreement, then realized how silly that was as Peggy couldn't see her head move in the
Suddenly they heard a small noise from across the room. Peggy tapped Kelly's hand
twice. Kelly responded by tapping Peggy's hand three times. The arranged signals meant
they were both aware that something was happening.
There was a small sound of something lightly banging against the far wall, followed
by the sound of metal scraping. And then the clear sound of someone gently landing on
the floor. There was movement followed by a flashlight being turned on, its light
tracing around the shelves that contained Stark's devices.
Slowly Peggy and Kelly eased themselves up. Her hand on the wall switch, Peggy
flipped it on, and Kelly prepared to use her spell. The room was now fully lit and they
stared at who stood across the room from them.
It wasn't Nespun.
"Dottie Underwood!" Peggy exclaimed in surprise.
"Hello Peggy. I expected we'd run into each other again." The woman was
slim and almost as tall as Kelly, with long blond curly hair down to below her
shoulders. Her triangular, pretty face exhibited a look of confidence.
"Who is she?" Kelly asked.
"A trained agent of the Soviet Union," Peggy replied. "A part of
"Formerly," Dottie corrected her. "Now I'm independent."
"And working for Nespun," Peggy said.
"With Nespun," she said, and gave a small shrug. "A girl's
gotta do what she's gotta do to survive."
"How did she get in here?" Kelly asked.
"Through the vent shaft," Peggy answered, pointing to the vent's grating
that was dangling by a single screw. "Its opening was the metal scraping we heard.
The shaft leads to a huge fan that provides ventilation for this part of the
"How could she squeeze past that fan and through such a narrow shaft?"
"Dottie was trained in incredible acrobatics," Peggy said, "doing
things with her body that normal people can't do. It was part of her intensive training
as an assassin at the Russian Red Room Academy, the Soviet Union's school for very young
"As was hand-to-hand combat," Dottie reminded her. In a lightning move she
pushed Peggy aside, then kicked Kelly in her stomach. As the young witch doubled over,
Dottie landed two blows on Kelly's head, followed by a hard chop at her neck. Kelly
slumped helpless to the floor.
From behind her, Peggy kicked Dottie's leg, bringing her down to one knee. Peggy
landed two punches on Dottie but the trained assassin brought up both of her legs,
ensnaring Peggy's head tightly between them. Her head being tightly squeezed, Peggy fell
to her knees, but managed to hit Dottie hard on her side. From the force of the punch
Dottie's legs momentarily opened and Peggy pulled her head out from between them.
They grappled, landing blows on each other and throwing each other across the room,
knocking some of the devices from the shelves to the floor. Backing away for a few
seconds, Dottie pulled a switchblade knife from her pocket. Peggy quickly grabbed a lab
coat that had fallen to the floor and wrapped it around Dottie's arm. Pushing Dottie
back with her foot, she yanked hard with the lab coat on her arm, the knife falling from
Peggy pulled the lab coat free, swung it tightly around Dottie's neck and used that
leverage to throw her against the far wall. As Peggy came at her, Dottie grabbed one of
the devices from a shelf and crashed it across Peggy's head. Stunned, Peggy fell
backwards against a cabinet. Taking the opportunity, Dottie jumped up into the
ventilation shaft and, with the device still in her hand, quickly began crawling through
the shaft to escape to the outside.
It took Peggy a few seconds to recover. Then she rushed to the shaft but Dottie was
not in sight. Peggy knew that there wasn't any way that she could maneuver herself
through that shaft. She turned and went to Kelly, lying un-conscious on the floor. She
shook her hard and Kelly slowly began to revive.
"I'm going after Dottie," she said to Kelly, then hurried out of the room.
She made her way around the building until she got to the large ventilation fan. She saw
that it had been ever so slightly moved. She looked all around. Dottie was gone.
Ana finished cleaning the blood off of Peggy's face, attending to the cut on her lip
and the scraped skin above her eye.
"I'm sorry we disturbed you in the middle of the night," Peggy apologized.
They had tried to come in to the mansion quietly. But Jarvis and his wife had heard
"It's never too late at night to help you, Miss Carter," he said.
"Nor you, Miss Anderson."
"There...you'll be good as new in a day," Ana said to Peggy, then turned
to Kelly. "I'm afraid that bump on your head will take longer to go away," her
Hungarian accent making it sound more serious than it was.
Kelly removed the soft ice pack from her head and gingerly touched her scalp.
"I've had worse happen to me. That was kind of you to help me. Thank you."
"How are you going to find Dottie Underwood?" Jarvis asked.
"She took one of Howard's devices with her. That will let us track her in the
morning," Peggy said. "Right now we all need some sleep."
"Stay home with Ana," Peggy said to Jarvis early the next morning.
"This will most certainly be very dangerous and I don't want you in the middle of
"That hasn't stopped me from helping you in the past," Jarvis replied.
"You need someone to help you."
"And you have helped me Mr. Jarvis," Peggy replied. "But I
won't be alone. Kelly is with me."
"Nevertheless, and not taking anything away from Miss Anderson's abilities,
there are things that I can do to help which she can't," he said.
"Such as?" Peggy asked.
"Drive Mr. Stark's car," he answered.
Peggy turned to Kelly. "You don't drive a car in the...uh, where you
"I do drive...but not manual shift cars. Only automatic transmissions,"
"Miss Anderson mentioned that last night when I offered her the keys to drive
the car when you went to Mr. Stark's facility," Jarvis said. "Though
Hydra-Matic transmissions are becoming quite popular in newer models, most automobiles
use manual transmissions. Not being able to drive them puts you at a disadvantage, Miss
Anderson. But I'd be happy to teach you how to do that."
"Uh...thank you Mr. Jarvis," Kelly answered. "Perhaps...if there'll
be time...after we've stopped Dottie Underwood and Nespun."
Daniel Sousa had called Peggy first thing in the morning. His agents had uncovered a
jeweler who let it be known that he had a significant inventory of new diamonds. Sousa
gave Peggy the information and was going to meet her there. But she stopped him. She
didn't want him involved with a demon who had unknown powers. She told him about Dottie
Underwood. She didn't expect him to find her but keeping him busy trying to do that
would keep him safe.
"From what Dottie said last night, I got the impression that there's some
personal rivalry between the two of you," Kelly observed, as she sat next to Peggy
in the back seat of the car.
"We've had our run-ins a few times," Peggy explained, "and have
knocked each other out. Dottie thinks of it as a competition of sorts. I finally caught
her in New York last year. But I broke her out of custody earlier this year and arranged
for her to come to LA. I needed her skills in dealing with the Zero Matter. She
understood she had to do as I said or I'd turn her over to Soviet Union agents. She did
not want to go back to Russia."
"You're certainly daring," Kelly said with admiration. "What
"Dottie did as she was told up to a point," Peggy replied. "Then
things didn't go as planned and she escaped."
Jarvis pulled the car over near the Henry Stevens Jewelry Store on Hill Street, just
off 6th Street in the Jewelry District. "Kelly and I will go inside and see what we
can find out," Peggy said. "Mr. Jarvis, please turn on the tracker and see
where it leads you. But do not approach Dottie. See where she is, go to a pay
phone and call your wife. Tell her where you are. We'll call her later and she can tell
us where to meet you. Understood?"
"Perfectly, Miss Carter," Jarvis replied. "But please...do be careful
"We will," Kelly assured him as she and Peggy got out of the car. They
looked over the storefront, then slowly walked inside. A bell above them jingled as the
door opened. A man came out from a back room. He appeared to be in his late fifties,
shorter than Peggy, with grey hair and rimless eyeglasses. He wore a grey pinstripe vest
over his white shirt, his sleeves rolled up to his elbows.
"Mr. Stevens?" Peggy asked.
"Yes. Can I help you?" he asked.
"We're interested in diamonds," Peggy replied.
"Earrings? Or perhaps a necklace?" he asked.
"I'm actually more interested in loose gems," Peggy said, "that I
could do with as I wished. Specifically new ones."
"New ones?" Stevens repeated. He looked Peggy over carefully, thinking as
he did. "How many?"
"I should say two dozen at the very least," Peggy replied. "Probably
three or four."
The man looked at her carefully again. "If I had that many they'd be
very expensive. Can you afford them?"
"I have a generous benefactor," she replied, smiling.
"I see," Stevens said, seeming a bit cautious. "Just a moment."
He turned around and went into the back room. In a moment he returned, a purple velvet
pouch in his hand. He laid a cloth on the showcase counter and poured out the pouch's
contents. Half a dozen diamonds lay on the cloth.
Kelly moved to the counter. As she bent over and looked closely at the diamonds, her
eyes took in the purple pouch next to it. Then she looked up at Peggy and gave a tiny
nod of her head.
"These are good but hardly enough," Peggy said. "Get more of them.
I'll came back in a day or two. Perhaps you'll have them by then. Good day Mr.
Stevens." A concerned look crossed the man's face but before he could say anything
Peggy and Kelly turned around and quickly went out the door.
"I'm not a diamond expert but I'm sure those are the diamonds I
replicated," Kelly said as they walked a little way down the block. "And I
definitely recognize Nespun's purple pouch with the yellow drawstring."
"That means Nespun has already conducted his business with Stevens with
yesterday's diamonds. He moved quickly," Peggy observed. "We still don't know
what that business is."
"Nor why he goes specifically to the year 2000 to sell the devices," Kelly
added. "That's been bothering me. Why didn't he pick some other year? Or why not go
to the past before Howard built his tracker?"
"From the look on Stevens' face I believe we've rattled him a bit," Peggy
said. "Perhaps enough for him to contact Nespun."
"Let's hope so. We can wait across the street for a while and see if he
comes," Kelly said.
"I caught only a glimpse of the back of his head yesterday so I wouldn't
recognize him. My watching for him won't be of help," Peggy said. "I'm going
around behind the store and have a look there."
Prue opened the door and let Piper in to Kelly's home.
"I got the device that Nespun sold to the warlock," she said, placing it
on the table.
"That warlock will be on alert now that he knows that someone, probably us, is
after him," Prue noted. "That could be a problem."
"No, he won't be," Piper assured her. "I froze him, took everything
from his pockets, then hit him over the head with a piece of wood
and quickly re-froze him. When he unfroze,
he'll have thought he was just mugged and all of his things stolen."
Alexis looked closely at the device. "I'm pretty sure that's a high frequency
interrupter. It's supposed to stop words from being vocalized and heard, so that enemy
soldiers can't alert anyone of the Allied soldiers' presence, nor call for help. The
MOAH exhibit had a picture of this one, too." Prue quickly explained to Piper about
Alexis' familiarity with the devices.
"So these devices are coming from the past," Prue concluded.
Piper exhaled. "We don't know how many more devices Nespun has brought from the
past and sold here," she said, concern and worry in her voice. "And there
isn't any way for us to find them."
"Actually...there is," Alexis said.
"What? How?" Piper asked.
"Howard Stark soldered a tracking device into each of his inventions, so that
if any were stolen he could find them," Alexis explained. "And he built a
tracker to locate them. It was quite a sophisticated and advanced system for its time.
It was part of the MOAH exhibit."
"A picture of a tracker won't help us," Prue said.
"Not a picture," Alexis corrected her. "We had the actual machine.
And it's still locked away at MOAH."
Prue and Piper stared at each other. "If we had that tracker, we could find the
other devices that Nespun stole and brought here," Piper said. "But how could
we get it? I doubt the museum would believe us that we need it to track devices being
stolen by a time traveling demon. Just the paperwork to make an official request to use
it would take forever."
"If it even still works," Prue said. "It's been almost fifty years
since it was made."
"Oh, it works," Alexis assured her. "A couple of engineers on MOAH's
staff decided to see if they could make it work. They got some vacuum tubes - they're
still available if you know where to look for them - to replace the old ones and they
were able to power it on. We had just one other of Stark's actual devices in the museum.
When they turned the tracker on it found that device right away."
"Then we'll just have to 'borrow' it," Prue said.
"Borrow?" Alexis looked at Prue. Then she understood. "You'd
have to break in. And un-noticed. The museum has security alarms and cameras."
"We can do that with Leo," Prue replied. She explained Leo's orbing
ability to Alexis.
Alexis took a deep breath. "Then I have to go with him," she said.
"I'm part of all of this, now."
"No!" Prue said emphatically. "You may know that we're witches and
know some of the things that we do. But you're not part of doing anything dangerous. Or
"Leo won't find the tracker without me being with him," Alexis said.
"Even if I could explain where they keep it - assuming they haven't moved it
elsewhere - he wouldn't know the museum layout if something went wrong. And he wouldn't
know how to disable the security cameras and avoid triggering an alarm." She
paused. "Stark's devices in the hands of demons and warlocks would be a
"Look - I don't have your witch powers. But neither does Stuart. And he does a
lot more dangerous things than this. I'm Kelly's best friend. I'm ready to do this to
help her - and you."
Piper wanted to remind Alexis about they're keeping Stuart safe for a while -
because of the danger he'd been in. But Prue didn't know about that arrangement. And if
Kelly hadn't told her then she wasn't going to.
"OK - you can do this with Leo," Piper said. Prue turned to her and
started to say something but Piper shook her head at her. Alexis was right. They had
to get Stark's devices from whomever had them. Only the tracker could find them and
Alexis' help was critical to their getting it.
"I'll call Leo. We have to do this right now," Piper said. "Then I'll
prepare you for what orbing is like," she told Alexis.
Peggy went to the corner, then walked around it onto Sixth Street. A little way down
the block she saw an alley that ran behind the stores all the way to Fifth Street. There
wouldn't be an alley back here in New York, she thought, but this is typical for LA.
She carefully made her way down the alley. Back doors to the stores on Hill Street
lined the right side. She approached what she thought was the back of the jewelry store
when she saw a door start to open. She pressed herself against the back wall of the
adjacent store that was just before it. Peggy held her breath as from the corner of her
eye she saw the jeweler come out. He locked the door, then turned down the alley in the
opposite direction from Peggy.
Peggy exhaled and moved away from the wall, just as Kelly came into the alley. She
motioned for Kelly to be silent. They watched the jeweler until he was almost at the
Fifth Street end of the alley.
"He put a 'Closed' sign on his door so I hurried back here," Kelly
"Perhaps instead of summoning Nespun here, he's going to him,"
Peggy whispered back. "We'll follow him carefully."
They saw Stevens turn left onto Fifth Street. They hurried to the end of the alley
just in time to see him turn right at the next corner onto Olive Street. Following
quickly but quietly, they went onto Olive, too, and saw him go into the side door of a
closed-up movie theater. They were about to follow him inside when a car pulled up a few
feet from them.
"What are you doing here, Mr. Jarvis?" Peggy asked. "You were
supposed to follow the tracker's signal."
"I did, Miss Carter," he replied. "It brought me here."
"Then Dottie's somewhere around the theater, too," Peggy said. "Wait
nearby, Mr. Jarvis, while Kelly and I go inside. If the tracker signal moves, follow
"Very well, Miss Carter," he said, "but do be careful in there."
Peggy and Kelly eased open the theater's side door and slipped inside. The room was
dark but some light came in through an open doorway leading further inside the theater.
They quietly went through that doorway and found themselves in a vestibule. Beyond them
they heard voices. They moved closer to the edge, which led into what had been the
theater's concession stand. Now they could clearly see Nespun and the jeweler Stevens
and hear what they were saying.
"...asking pointed questions. And she wanted only new stones," the
jeweler said. "And I heard from another jeweler that government agents were nosing
around yesterday, asking about new diamonds, too."
"No one could know about our business," Nespun said with assurance.
"Someone obviously knows something," Stevens retorted. "I
wasn't looking for this business. Remember - you came to me. You had this grand
idea of selling devices that would cover the tracks of demons and warlocks in the future
wouldn't be obvious to any good witches. They would seem to be ordinary criminals'
activities. And some devices that would also protect them.
And you wanted to eventually go there yourself so you'd be protected in your own
"You offered new, guaranteed
un-traceable diamonds from that future in exchange for payment: one-quarter in cash to
your lady friend and three-quarters from my supply of zorkon crystals for your zorkon
ring. Which, when you relieved some unfortunate demon of it for your own use, was almost
"Zorkon ring," Kelly whispered. "Of course. When I saw a triangular
ring with red crystals in it on Nespun's finger it looked familiar but I couldn't
remember why. Now I do. I saw it in the Book of Shadows."
"The what?" Peggy asked.
"The book that tells us about demons," Kelly replied. "It had a
drawing of the ring, with the red zorkon crystals in it."
"What does the ring do?" Peggy asked.
"What indeed?" a female voice asked. They turned around. Dottie Underwood
stood some ten feet behind them. With a gun pointed at them.
"Get your hands up. Both of you! " Dottie said. "Don't try any of
your heroics, Peggy. I'm far enough from you that you can't reach me quickly enough and
close enough that I can't miss if I shoot. It would be such a shame to end our
relationship that way. Now move inside!"
Peggy and Kelly turned around and walked into the concession stand area.
"What...what's going on here?" a startled Nespun asked.
"They were in the vestibule listening to your conversation," Dottie said.
"A most interesting conversation, I must add."
"Those are the two who were just in my store looking for new diamonds,"
Nespun stared at Kelly. "You bought one of the devices yesterday. In 2000 - in
the future. How did you get here?"
"The same way you did," Kelly answered.
"Who...what are you?" Nespun asked. He looked at Kelly's hands. "You
don't have a zorkon ring."
"I don't need one to time travel," Kelly said.
"Time travel?" Dottie repeated.
"You've been stealing Howard's devices and giving them to Nespun," Peggy
said to Dottie. "And he's been selling them...elsewhere."
"In...the future? In...2000? How is that possible?" Dottie asked.
"That's not important," Nespun said.
"That ring," Dottie said, staring at it on Nespun's finger. "That can
take you to the future?"
"Nonsense," Nespun said.
"No - it isn't," Dottie replied. "I heard the two of you talking
about getting diamonds from the future." Dottie was trained in the Red Room Academy
to never be overwhelmed. If she were suddenly faced with a new reality, she learned to
accept it and use it to her advantage.
"While I've been stuck here trying to avoid being caught. I could have gone
with you." Peggy started to make a move towards Dottie but she turned back towards
Peggy. "Don't!" she warned Peggy.
"We were supposed to be partners, splitting whatever you got for the diamonds
fifty-fifty. And you've been holding out on me. Un-traceable diamonds from the
future? They can be worth a fortune. A fortune I could use. A fortune much more
than the small amount you were paying me."
"The future? No, no-" Nespun began.
"I've seen Zero Matter," she said. "I know that things that were
thought to be impossible can be real."
"Who are these women?" Stevens asked, his impatience finally
"Peggy is an agent for the Strategic Scientific Reserve," Dottie said.
"As for her friend - she may be one also. But a poor one. She can't take a punch
the way Peggy can." There was a touch of admiration for Peggy in her tone.
"I am an agent, too, but a new one," Kelly said. "I haven't
had Peggy's agent training yet. But I am very well trained in spells."
"Spells?" Nespun asked. Then something clicked in his head. Spells, time
travel - a witch! "Shoot -" he started to tell Dottie. But Kelly was already
saying the spell very quickly.
"Selling devices from the past in the future
The danger you bring to that time must stop;
With this I vanquish you out of both times
And therefore from this world you now drop."
A ring of gray smoke began to encircle Nespun. Dottie stared at him as the smoke
thickened and he started becoming translucent. Then she moved quickly. She stuck her
hand through the smoke, grabbed the zorkon ring and pulled it off Nespun's finger. She
pulled out her hand just as Nespun became even more translucent and he screamed. After a
few seconds he and the smoke were gone.
Dottie stared at where Nespun had been. Then turned away and aimed her gun again at
"What are you?" she asked Kelly.
"She's a witch," the jeweler answered.
"Huh...a witch. And a time travel ring," Dottie said. "Look at what I
learned today. How does the ring work?" When no one answered she backed up and
pointed her gun at the jeweler, too.
"Pressing the right side takes you forward in time," he said.
"Pressing the left side brings you back."
"Well, well," she said, putting the ring on her finger. "All of this
makes Zero Matter look like child's play." She pressed the right side of the ring.
Peggy stared at where Dottie had been. "She's escaped to the future. She could
"No, not anywhere," Kelly said. "One of the drawbacks of the zorkon
ring, compared to a witch's spell, is that its time travel power has an inherent
limitation. It has some characteristics of a loop. When it goes forward it can take the
wearer only to a later time than the last one in which he'd been. And when he returns it
can't be any earlier than the time from which he'd left."
"That's why he couldn't go back to a time before Howard made the
tracker," Peggy said.
"Nor go forward to some year before 2000," Kelly added. "He stole
that ring from some demon who must have used it to travel to my time. The good news is
that we don't have Nespun, nor apparently that other demon, to worry about."
"The bad news is that Dottie has escaped," Peggy replied.
The jeweler started to quietly edge to the concession area doorway. Peggy pulled her
gun from an inside jacket pocket and aimed it at him. "You're not going
anywhere," she said.
"What do we do with him?" Kelly asked.
"How did you have the spell you used on Nespun?" Peggy asked.
"I made it up last night while we were waiting in the storage room," Kelly
Peggy stared at Stevens. "Then you make up a special spell to use now on
him," she suggested.
"I'm not a demon, nor even a warlock," he said matter-of-factly.
"Prick my finger if you don't believe me." He pulled a pin from his shirt
pocket and offered it to Kelly.
"Warlocks don't bleed," she explained to Peggy, as she took the pin and
pricked his finger. A little blood came out.
"And if I was a demon I would have used a power on her to get that ring
back," he said.
"Then just what are you?" Peggy demanded.
"A purely human purveyor to the dark world," he replied. "I've come
across things that are valuable to them. I sell them to give me additional income to my
"We don't have time to waste on him," Kelly said. "I have to go after
Dottie. Put him in handcuffs and arrest him."
"Daniel won't be able to prove any charges against him," Peggy replied.
"He won't have receipts for purchasing the diamonds but as they're un-traceable
they can't be proven to have been stolen. We have to leave him here so I can go after
Dottie with you."
"No...that's not a good idea," Kelly began.
"You're experienced in dealing with demons, not with a Dottie Underwood,"
"We have police in 2000 -"
"Who aren't trained to track down a highly trained assassin like Dottie. I
am. I know her."
"Going to the future means you'll see things...that you shouldn't know,"
Kelly said. "The timeline -"
"Is fragile, I know," Peggy assured her, her English pronunciation making
the word rhyme with 'argyle'. "I'll be sure to treat it very gently."
"We don't know how far in the future she went. Nor where," Kelly said.
"The bottom border of the ring can be manipulated to push the time further
forward," Stevens said. "I didn't tell her that. So it will default to
approximately six hours from when it last left the future. And from the same
"Well - that's very helpful," Kelly said.
"Keep in mind that I did that, should you have a change of heart later about
arresting me," he said.
"I suppose that's fair enough," Peggy said. "We'd better get going.
How does this work?"
Kelly took a deep breath. "Hold my hands tightly and don't let go," she
said. And then she began to say the time travel spell.
Leo and Alexis had taken the tracker from MOAH. Her familiarity with the security
system had saved their endeavor from setting off an alarm when Leo almost triggered an
infrared sensor. She showed Piper and Prue how to use the tracker and follow its
They put the tracker in Prue's car and Piper and Prue went out in search of the stolen
It was almost three hours later when Piper and Prue came into Kelly's house,
together carefully carrying Howard Stark's tracker.
"The tracker worked like a charm," Prue said, as they placed it on the
coffee table, along with a large bag. "It pointed to four devices and we found
them," motioning to the bag.
"Did you have any trouble?" Alexis asked.
"No one was around three of the devices," Piper said, "but we did
have to vanquish a demon to get the fourth one. He was similar to a demon we had
vanquished before so we knew the spell to use on him."
"You've been going after demons?" Stuart asked as he came into the room.
"Not really - just some things they had which we took away from them,"
Stuart glanced at the tracker, then looked inside the bag. "Those are rather
old devices," he said. "Why would demons want them?"
"We're not really sure," Prue said.
"I want to examine them," Alexis said, taking them out of the bag.
"Actually holding them is a once in a lifetime experience that can never happen
"We should get the tracker back to the museum," Piper said.
"Museum?" Stuart asked.
"MOAH, where Alexis used to work. We had to 'borrow' it," Piper said.
A look of confusion crossed Stuart's face. "Why? And speaking of museums, Kelly
isn't back yet," he said, looking at his watch. "How much work can that
exhibit still need?"
"Kelly...is always so particular that exhibits should be just right,"
Alexis said. "She doesn't look at the clock when she does that."
"I know. I'll call her and see how it's going," he said. Before Alexis
could think of a way to stop him, he was dialing Kelly's cell phone.
"That's strange," Stuart said. "It went straight to voice mail. Just
as it would do if her phone was turned off. Or out of range."
Thirty minutes later Kelly and Peggy appeared in the warehouse where Nespun had
been. Kelly had tried to set their arrival time to be just before the six hour return
time of the zorcon ring.
"That certainly was faster, and more comfortable, than traveling by
aeroplane," Peggy remarked.
"This is where Nespun was when he was last in 2000," Kelly said.
"If what Stevens told us was true this is where Dottie will come by default.
Peggy took a look around. "It's rather dim. It doesn't look much different from
an old warehouse in 1947," she noted.
"That's good," Kelly answered. If Dottie shows up here and we capture her,
I can avoid exposing Peggy to the world of 2000 and its concomitant risk of the timeline
"We'll wait over here," Kelly said, leading Peggy to the half-partition
behind which she and Piper had earlier hidden while watching Nespun.
"Chasing after demons must interfere with your personal life," Peggy
remarked, making conversation as they waited.
Kelly thought about Stuart and what the risks of going after demons had done to him.
"It doesn't come between my fiancé Stuart and me. He insists on fighting
evil with me. And that's the problem. He's always at risk doing that."
"As are you," Peggy said. "I suppose it's in some way the same as
with Daniel and me. We're in love. In our jobs we often are working together. And he's
at risk just as I am."
"At least Daniel can defend himself with a gun -". Kelly stopped as they
heard a whooshing sound in the other room. They peeked over the partition. Dottie stood
there, in the same place where Nespun had stood. She looked around, trying to understand
just where it was that she had arrived.
Peggy pulled out her gun from her jacket pocket. She and Kelly slowly moved out from
behind the partition. In the dimness of the warehouse, they hadn't noticed a piece of
metal lying on the floor just beyond the partition. And they banged into it.
The noise got Dottie's attention and she quickly turned around.
"Peggy. Won't you ever give up?" she asked.
"Raise your hands," Peggy replied.
"And your witch-agent. We've never been properly introduced."
"Stay behind me, Kelly," Peggy said.
"Kelly, is it. Well Kelly - you're really going to have learn more about
how to be a real agent. Especially if you're going to try to keep up with me,"
Dottie taunted her.
"I have handcuffs in my back pocket. Take them out," Peggy told Kelly.
"That won't do you any good," Dottie said.
"Keep your hands up until I tell you to put them behind you," Peggy said.
"Of course," Dottie agreed. In the warehouse's dim light Peggy and Kelly
could see Dottie's hands were raised. But they couldn't make out that she was holding
something in one hand. And then she pressed a button on it.
"Ahhh!" Peggy shouted, her hands going to her head.
"Ahhh!" Kelly also shouted. She felt herself becoming disoriented. She
started to lose her balance, turning to the partition wall to hold herself up.
Peggy felt the warehouse suddenly swimming around her. She tried to steady herself
but lost her balance and fell to her knees.
"A very useful weapon Stark has here," Dottie said. She looked down at
Peggy. "I can't say it hasn't been fun." Then she turned around, saw the front
door and made her way out of the warehouse.
It took a few minutes for Kelly and Peggy to regain their equilibrium. As they made
their way out of the warehouse and looked around, they were not surprised they did not
see Dottie anywhere.
Kelly had left her car at the warehouse when she had been there the first time.
Reluctantly, she ushered Peggy into the car with her and drove home.
"Try not to look...too much," Kelly told her. "It's the -"
"Future, I know," Peggy replied. "You can trust me, Kelly. I will not
tell Howard about what I see here so that he doesn't invent anything before its
"It's not that I don't trust you," Kelly said. "But you're seeing a
new world, at least from your perspective. And human nature is..."
"To tell new things one comes across to people - especially to friends,"
Peggy said. "I'm a trained SSR Agent. I know how to keep secrets."
"I'm sorry," Kelly said. "I didn't mean to offend you."
"No offense taken," Peggy replied. "You're being thorough and
careful. As an SSR Agent must be."
"Honey - there you are," Stuart said as Kelly and Peggy came in to the
house. "What happened?" Peggy saw Stuart's face light up when he saw Kelly.
That is indeed real love, Peggy thought.
"Uh...something came up," Kelly replied, then gave him a small smile.
"This is Peggy Carter. Peggy, this is Piper and Prue Halliwell, and my best friend
Alexis Bourné." They nodded acknowledgments. "And this is my
fiancé, Stuart Weston."
"It's a pleasure to meet you," Peggy said, extending her hand as she
looked into his face. "Kelly has told me much about you."
"She has?" Stuart asked in surprise.
"I can see that she was quite right," Peggy continued, looking from him to
Kelly. "You clearly love each other very much."
"Uh...uh...yes, we...uh...do," he replied, startled by Peggy's unexpected
"We've been tracking down a former Russian operative, Dottie Underwood,"
Kelly said. "She's now independent - and very dangerous. But we no longer have a
way to find her, now."
"When...how?" Stuart started to question her.
Looking around the room, Peggy saw the table.
"What?..." Peggy began, then walked towards it. "We...do
have...a way," she said slowly. "But how can this be here?"
"You recognize that?" Prue asked.
"Howard's tracker," Peggy replied.
"You're familiar with it?" Piper asked in surprise.
"Intimately," Peggy answered. "I've spent the better part of the past
three days using it to track down Howard's devices that Dottie and Nespun stole."
"Just who are you?" Prue asked.
"OK...OK - just listen," Kelly began defensively, then took a deep breath.
"Peggy is an agent with the SSR." She saw blank faces on everyone - except
Stuart. As a former history teacher, she wasn't surprised that he knew what it was.
"The Strategic Scientific Reserve, a government agency created during World
War II that continues to combat spies and other dangerous operatives. At least it
does...in Peggy's time. Peggy is...from 1947."
"What? You brought someone from the past here?" Prue said, getting upset.
"The timeline has to be protected. It's hard enough when we have to go back
in time to make sure that we don't change anything that would affect our present.
But bringing someone here who sees what for her is the future...the mention of anything
she sees when she goes back to her time, even the slightest hint about something
in our time, could alter the timeline. And wreck havoc in the world as we know
it. You can't just do something like this on your own."
"We're not used to going after and confronting a spy and assassin like Dottie
Underwood," Kelly emphasized. "We need Peggy's SSR knowledge and
"Perhaps we're not used to it but Darryl Morris is a very experienced
police Inspector," Prue countered. "He would know how to take down this
"No, he wouldn't," Kelly replied. "Look Prue - I'm not the impetuous,
novice witch who did things without thinking them fully through, any more. The two years
I spent in the alternate reality changed me."
"Alternate reality?!" Peggy and Alexis asked simultaneously.
"I thought this over very carefully," Kelly continued. "Dottie was
trained by the Russians and has extraordinary abilities. Almost like that of a witch or
"Did you consider that she might be just that?" Prue asked.
"No - she isn't," Peggy interjected. "I've been dealing with Dottie,
in one way or another, for the past year. That is, in my time. She's human. With
extraordinary skills, yes, but still human. Kelly didn't want to bring me here but I
convinced her it was necessary. If you want to blame someone for my being here then you
can blame me."
Prue thought for a moment then exhaled. "I'm not blaming anyone. And you're
right, Kelly. You have matured and I can - and I do - trust your judgment.
I'm sorry for what I said," Prue apologized. "It's just that I worry about the
"So do I," Kelly replied.
"And I understand enough about it that I do, as well," Peggy said.
"Now that we're all in agreement about being careful to protect the timeline, we
can put that aside. Now tell me how Howard's tracker that I just left in 1947 can be
sitting here on your table."
"We took it from MOAH, a museum about inventions and technologies, including
those from the 1940s," Piper said. "They had some of the original inventions
from that period, including Stark's tracker. Alexis used to work there and had seen a
demonstration of the tracker locating the only other Stark device that the museum has.
We used the tracker to locate four of the devices that Nespun sold here. We have them in
that gray bag in the corner." After having her thrill of handling the devices,
Alexis had returned them to the bag.
"After all these years it still works," Peggy said, a little amazement in
"I helped put together an exhibit that included Howard Stark's
inventions," Alexis said. "Aside from the tracker and that one device, all we
had were pictures of them. But they were amazing inventions. And now that we've
retrieved the stolen devices I've seen the actual inventions." Alexis paused.
"And you knew...er, know him?" she asked with a bit of awe.
"Howard is a dear friend of mine," Peggy replied. "He is a brilliant
and good person but has a propensity for getting himself into...predicaments. And then
needing someone to extricate him from them."
"What I still don't understand is how you got into this with Peggy,"
Stuart said to Kelly.
"Later honey, when there's time and it's quiet I'll explain it to you,"
Kelly answered, though she wasn't looking forward to that conversation. "But right
now we have to find Dottie. She is extremely dangerous. And the more she sees of our
time the more risk there'll be to our time when Peggy gets her back to 1947.
She's not going to be concerned about protecting the timeline."
"Wait a minute," Piper said to Kelly. "You brought Peggy here but how
did Dottie get here?"
"Nespun was using a zorkon ring to travel between 1947 and 2000," Kelly
explained. "Dottie grabbed the ring from his finger while I was vanquishing him.
And then she used it."
"How is the tracker going to help us find her?" Prue asked.
"Dottie still has one of Howard's devices that she stole so the tracker will
lead us to it - and to her," Kelly answered.
"But we don't have a way to overcome what that device does," Peggy pointed
out. "She already used it rather successfully against us."
"We can't overcome the device but we can stop her from using it,"
Kelly said. "With Piper's and Prue's powers." She explained to Peggy about
Prue's telekinesis power and Piper's power to freeze things.
"Let's take the tracker back to the car and find her," Prue said.
"I'm coming with you," Stuart said.
"No, honey," Kelly said, still trying to keep him away from any danger.
"The tracker takes up a seat in the car so there's room just for the four of
"There's no telling where she is. She could be in some deserted place that
could turn into a trap," he said.
"We won't be in any trap. She doesn't know that we can track her so she won't
be expecting us," Kelly said. She saw that wasn't placating Stuart. "I'll call
you and tell you where we are so you won't worry about where it is."
"Honey - trust me," Kelly implored him.
Stuart took a deep breath and exhaled. "OK. But call me as soon as you know
where it is that the tracker points to."
"Thanks," Kelly said, and gave him a small kiss.
"I've got the inventions we recovered," Piper said, taking the gray bag.
"Peggy can take them back with her to 1947, where they belong, when she takes
As they headed for the door Kelly pulled Alexis aside. "I know I've asked a lot
of you today, but please - don't let Stuart out of your sight until we're back."
"Sure. I won't," Alexis replied.
"Slow down," Peggy said and Prue pulled the car over to the side.
"The tracker is pointing at that building."
"That's The Cannery," Piper said.
"Food is canned in there?" Peggy asked.
"Used to be," Piper replied. "Now it houses shops, restaurants,
galleries and open air arcades."
"Lots of places inside where Dottie could be," Prue said. "Let's
store the tracker in the trunk." She got out of the car and together with Peggy
took it from the back seat. As Piper opened the trunk for them, Kelly called Stuart to
let him know they were in a safe public, populated area.
"The Cannery has three levels. We'll have to split up to cover all of it,"
Kelly said, "but only Peggy and I know what Dottie looks like. Go with Peggy, Piper
and I'll go with Prue."
Stuart sat down on the living room sofa next to Alexis. He felt better after Kelly's
call but still wished that he was there with her.
"You know about Howard Stark because of his inventions. I know about him
because of his movies," Stuart said. "The Blue Chrysanthemum with
Veronica Lake was a classic film noir. And Mandalay Girl with Gene Tierney
was a riveting wartime story."
"I'm not really up on old movies," Alexis admitted. "I'm more
familiar with older items in my fields of work at de Young and MOAH - art history and
Stuart was about to respond when something clicked in his mind.
"Inventions," he repeated. He jumped up from the sofa and hurried over to the
chair in the corner of the living room.
"Stark's choking invention," he said as he picked it up from the chair.
"Someone was examining it and left it on the chair, so it wasn't with the other
devices in Piper's bag. This has to be returned to 1947 or the timeline..." He
paused as thoughts raced through his mind.
"You knew what this device is because of the picture of it in the MOAH exhibit.
If it's not back where it should be when the pictures of the devices are taken..."
"Then I wouldn't have recognized it," Alexis said.
"And everything that was done here because of that might be changed,"
Stuart said, fear growing in his voice. "The timeline could be irrevocably
damaged." He took a deep breath. "I have to get this to Peggy to take back
with her to her time. I'll bring it to her at The Cannery." He hurried to the front
Alexis realized that she couldn't stop Stuart. And she had promised Kelly she
wouldn't let him out of her sight. "I'm going with you," she said. "I
want to get a last look at it while you drive," she lied.
Piper and Peggy had quickly explored the outside courtyard that ran the length of
The Cannery, checking all of the tables and benches that sat beneath the olive and
magnolia trees. The red-bricked Cannery had been split internally, when the preservation
renovations for the historic building were made in the 60s, into two buildings, and now
Piper and Peggy hurried into the left building.
Kelly and Prue had gone into the right building's first floor, examining each shop
and restaurant on that level, checking each person they saw. They reached the last shop
at the end of the corridor, a two-room art gallery. No one was in the outer room, though
they could hear a voice coming from the inner room.
As they made their way to the doorway between the rooms, they heard steps coming
from the corridor behind them into the gallery. They turned around and saw Dottie
standing in the middle of the room, facing them.
"The future...this time...is so amazing," she said. "Much more
exciting than 1947."
"Too bad you find that year so dull, Dottie. You're going back to it,"
"I don't think so," Dottie said. "An SSR Agent has to learn from her
experience what to do differently the next time, not to simply repeat it. And have the
same result." Dottie took Stark's device out of her pocket and held it in her
"But you haven't learned that an SSR Agent will come prepared with
something up her sleeve," Kelly replied. "In this case, up my friend Prue's
Prue stretched out her arm and waved it at the device in Dottie's hand. The device
went flying from it, landing against the gallery's far wall. Prue waved her hand again
and Dottie went flying backwards, landing on the floor to the side of the gallery's
"There you are, Kelly," Stuart said, as he walked into the gallery
from the corridor. "You left one of the devices at home, honey, so I brought it for
Peggy to take back with her."
In a flash Dottie jumped up and was standing behind Stuart, her left arm tightly
around his neck. In her right hand was a gun, held tightly against his head, her finger
on the trigger.
"I don't know how you did that parlor trick with your hand but don't try it
again," Dottie warned. "The slightest movement of the gun, or my hand, and the
gun will fire. Whoever this is is sweet on you, Kelly. You don't want anything to happen
Prue knew that Dottie was right. She couldn't use her power against Dottie's hand,
or the gun, without the movement making it go off.
"If you hurt Stuart you won't have anything left to stop us from taking
you," Kelly said.
"And if I don't threaten to shoot him you'll certainly take me,"
Dottie answered. "So I have nothing to lose. But you do!"
Dottie started to slowly back out of the gallery into the corridor, holding Stuart
tightly, her attention focused on Kelly and Prue.
Suddenly Dottie gave a gasping sound. She let go of Stuart, instinctively pulled the
gun from his head and waved it behind her, before dropping it. Her left hand went to her
throat while her right elbow made a strong backwards motion, as if defending herself
against someone attacking her, someone right behind her with hands on her throat.
But the only person behind her was twenty feet away. Alexis stood there, turning the
knobs on Stark's choking device that she had held in the car, pointing its
"arms" at Dottie and bringing the "arms" closer together. Dottie
manipulated her body, jumping up and off of the wall, landing close to Alexis. She
managed to get to her knees and tried lunging at Alexis. But with her air cutoff, she
finally lost consciousness and keeled over onto the floor.
They were in a back corner of the corridor, in the stairwell behind the staircase
that led to the upper levels. Most people didn't use that staircase, preferring to take
the elevator between floors. They couldn't go outside where they would surely be seen.
They had no choice but to stay in the corner where they'd be less likely to be
Kelly and Prue had dragged Dottie into the corner while Alexis had called Piper on
her cell phone to tell her where they were. They had been promptly joined by Piper and
Peggy, who put handcuffs on Dottie's wrists. Alexis found an art supplies shop down the
corridor and bought drafting tape, which Kelly used to tie around Dottie's legs and to
seal her mouth, lest she made noises that would draw attention to them.
"Howard's Stark's devices all accounted for," Piper said, as she came back
from the car with the gray bag of the inventions. Kelly dropped in the device that had
fallen from Dottie's hand as Alexis held the choking device.
"This was designed to give soldiers the ability to take out an enemy without
getting close enough to be in danger themselves," Peggy said as she looked at it.
"It wasn't ready to be used in the war - but it was a complete success today. It
worked as Howard envisioned it and kept Alexis safe."
Alexis looked at the device one last time, then dropped it into the bag. "I
wish I could thank him for that."
"So do I," Stuart said, "but at least I can thank you, Alexis.
You saved my life. It was very brave of you to do that."
"Well - I'm ready to take Peggy and Dottie back to 1947," Kelly said.
"And I'll take everyone else home," Prue said. Stuart started to protest
but Kelly shook her head at him. "Go home with them. I'll be fine - we won't be in
any danger. Just leave my car here so I'll have it when I get back."
Stuart took a deep breath, then reluctantly nodded his head in agreement. The four
walked out the back exit and headed for Prue's car.
"Ready when you are," Peggy said. Dottie started to come to and Peggy
knelt down to grab her arm.
"I heard them in the corridor, maybe around the corner," they heard a
woman's voice from the gallery say.
"I'll check it out," they heard a man say. Before they could do anything a
Cannery security guard came around from the corridor into the stairwell corner.
"Hey! What's going on here?!" he shouted, then started to grab his radio
from his belt.
"Stop! Federal Agents! Put back your radio!" Kelly commanded him.
The guard halted, his hand poised by his belt. Kelly took out her SSR badge that
Daniel Sousa had given her and held it out for the guard to see.
"I'm Agent Anderson and this is Agent Carter. And this spy is our
prisoner," she added.
"Spy?" the guard repeated, somewhat bewildered. He looked closely at
"Strategic Scientific Reserve," he read. "I never heard of it,"
Kelly thought for a few seconds. "What's your name?"
"Mr. Ory - what have you heard about the NSA - the National Security
Agency?" she asked.
"Uh...I heard something about it being some super-secret government thing. But
I don't know anything about it," he admitted.
"The reason you don't know is because it is a super-secret government
agency. And you don't know about the SSR because it is even more secret than
that," Kelly proclaimed.
"A...spy?" he asked.
"Yes. And we're taking her into custody," Kelly said.
"I...I have to report this...or I'll get into trouble," the guard
"No! There can't be any record of this. We can't risk it leaking and warning
the others in her ring that we have her," Kelly said firmly. "Nor can there be
a record that the SSR was here."
"But...give me your agency's phone number," he said. "In case this
gets back to my boss I need to have this verified."
"We don't give out a phone number. We're a deeply hidden, clandestine
agency," Peggy replied, in a perfect American accent.
Kelly did a double take. She quickly caught herself, turned back to the guard and
thought for a moment. "If you need to confirm this you can call CGIS - that's the
Coast Guard Investigative Service. Their headquarters is in the Coast Guard's Base
Alemeda. Ask for Agent Jordanna Amsel. They're our partner in this so that we remain
hidden. She will confirm that this is their operation, keeping us out of any public
The guard wrote down the information. "Now let us finish this operation before
you continue to endanger its completion," Peggy said sharply in her American
"Uh...OK," the guard said. Feeling he was in way over his head, he turned
around and went back down the corridor.
"I'm impressed," Kelly said, shaking her head slightly in astonishment.
"As an SSR agent I have to do many things in the course of an operation,"
Peggy explained, speaking normally again. "Including, at times, passing as an
American. The guard was suspicious of SSR being an American secret agency and I did
not want to increase his suspicion by sounding un-American.
And your part was nicely done, too."
"Uh...there can't be any record of SSR activity in this time," Kelly said.
"What will happen if he calls the Coast Guard?" Peggy asked.
"Jordanna will cover for us," Kelly replied. "I'll call her as soon
as I come back and let her know what to say. We've worked together and I know her very
"Then she knows who and...?"
"What I am? Yes - she knows I'm a witch. Though she isn't her mother
is one, too," Kelly explained.
"You have a large number of witches in San Francisco," Peggy noted.
"And a good thing we do," Kelly said. "For some reason there's a lot
of evil centered in this beautiful this city."
They lifted Dottie up, Peggy holding one arm and Kelly holding the other. Then
holding both the bag and Peggy's free hand, Kelly said the time travel spell.
"Dottie Underwood is safely behind bars and all of Howard's devices have been
recovered. And I could not have done it without Kelly," Peggy proudly said to
Daniel, as she and Kelly stood in the SSR LA Branch Chief's office.
Daniel Sousa looked at them, then exhaled. "I'll admit that you were right
about needing Miss Anderson's participation," he replied. "You did a great
job. You both did." A vindicating smile came across Peggy's face.
"Be prepared, Daniel, for Dottie being very different from how she had
been," Peggy warned him. "Since we captured her she's been babbling about
witches being SSR agents and her traveling through time to the future. I expect she's
having a breakdown."
"She won't get any sympathy from me. What about the jeweler, Henry
Stevens?" Sousa asked.
"Kelly and I are going there now to retrieve whatever stolen jewelry he has
left. They'll be returned to their owners as best as can be done," Peggy said. As
best as Kelly can in 2000, she thought.
"We should bring Stevens in, too," Sousa said.
"No, don't Daniel," Peggy said. "He co-operated with us to a certain
degree. Leave him where he is. You have leverage over him which may prove to be useful
in the future." Sousa thought for a moment, then nodded his head in agreement.
"Well - I guess I should return this," Kelly said, as she started to
unfasten her SSR badge.
"Now that you've proven your value, would you consider staying on here?"
Sousa asked. "I'd get you formal training."
"That's very kind of you, Chief Sousa, but I need to get home to San
Francisco," Kelly replied. "There are...things waiting for me."
"Including her fiancé," Peggy added. Sousa put out his hand to take
the badge but caught Peggy's look. And as often was the case, he could tell exactly what
she was thinking.
"On second thought, keep it Miss Anderson. You've earned it," he said,
leaving it in her hand. "SSR doesn't have an office in San Francisco but probably
could use one. If I could ever get funding for it. But if I do, maybe you'd be part of
"Thank you, Chief," Kelly said, re-fastening the badge. "Maybe."
He extended his hand again and shook hers.
"Good luck, Miss Anderson," he said.
"You really wanted him to know that I helped you," Kelly said as they
walked through the office bullpen.
"It helps whenever I can reinforce the point that Daniel should take my
advice," Peggy replied, smiling.
The door's overhead bell jingled as Peggy and Kelly came into Stevens' jewelry
"Can I help-" he started to say, but then saw who they were.
"Remember - I helped you!" he said in a panic.
"We do," Peggy said as she and Kelly brushed past him into the back room
of the store. "That's why we're going to let you remain in business."
"Your jewelry business," Kelly clarified. She went to a standing
cabinet and starting going through its shelves' contents. She took a small jar filled
with red crystals and placed it in the bag she had brought with her. She continued going
through the shelves, removing other jars containing various items and adding them to the
"No - you can't do that," Stevens protested as Kelly proceeded to
carefully look over every corner of the room, taking a few more items and putting them
into the bag, as well.
"Your days as a 'purveyor to the dark world' are over," Peggy said.
"You'll just have to make do selling jewelry."
"And not stolen jewelry," Kelly said, holding Nespun's pouch of
diamonds she had taken from a back counter. "These are going back to their
"It has been an honor to work with you, Miss Anderson," Jarvis said, as he
and Ana stood with Peggy and Kelly in Howard Stark's mansion's courtyard.
"And it's been my pleasure to have met both of you," Kelly replied.
"Are you sure I can't take you to Union Station?" Jarvis asked. "You
can still catch the Daylight Limited to San Francisco."
"Thank you, Mr. Jarvis, but Kelly has made other transportation arrangements to
get home," Peggy interjected.
"Very well. Then have a safe trip," Ana said.
"Good-bye," Kelly said, then walked with Peggy to a part of the courtyard
where she'd be hidden from view and wouldn't be seen disappearing when she said
the time travel spell.
"This is 'good-bye' for me, too. I will miss you," Peggy said.
"I've come to know you - and to really like you," Kelly responded.
"And to trust you with the timeline and the future."
"Your trust won't be misplaced," Peggy said. "I saw many wonderful
and fascinating things in your time but no one in this time will know anything of
them from me."
"I know." Kelly paused for a moment, then took a deep breath. "Prue
told me to destroy this," she said, as she took the zorkon ring from her pocket.
"She said it was dangerous if it fell into the wrong hands." Kelly took
Peggy's hand, placed the ring in its palm, then closed Peggy's fingers around it. She
put her own hand around Peggy's and squeezed it tightly.
"But it won't be if it fell into the right hands," Kelly told her.
"I don't know what the future will be. That is, your personal future. You've been
up against a demon once. Who knows - it might happen again. If you do...if you ever need
my help, come for me. You know how to use the ring. And you've been in my house so you
know where I live."
"I...having this...is a great responsibility," Peggy said, overwhelmed by
"I can't think of anyone whom I would trust more with that
responsibility." Kelly took the jar with the red crystals out of the bag.
"Here are the rest of the zorkon crystals, should the ring need to be refilled.
Using the ring slowly depletes them."
"What will you tell Prue?" she asked.
"That I took care of it. I don't need to give her details of how I did,"
"Thank you...for your trust. And your friendship," Peggy said. "This
will be kept in a safe place that no one else will know about."
"And here's some 2000 money so you can take a taxi to my home...and not have to
walk there from wherever the ring brings you," Kelly smiled as she handed Peggy an
"Thank you, Kelly. You are a dear friend. Howard would have loved to meet you,
had he been in town."
"Speaking of Howard, he should put you in one of his movies," Kelly
"I'm not an actress," Peggy demurred.
"I think you'd be a very good one," Kelly countered. "You have poise,
confidence and a natural, fresh beauty. The hallmarks of a fine actress."
"An actress must know how to act," Peggy said, "and I don't."
"You did a good job of covering up the truth about me," Kelly replied.
"No one, including Daniel, suspected that it was just an act on your part. I'd say
that was pretty good acting. And if that perfect American accent you used with the
Cannery guard wasn't acting, I don't know what is.
"In fact, Howard could make a movie about one of your operations, with you
starring in it. He could call it simply 'Agent Carter'."
"I doubt people would be interested in what I've done," Peggy said.
"People want danger and excitement in their films."
"That Zero Matter you told me about sounds to be very dangerous and
exciting," Kelly said. "I wouldn't be surprised if one day that story about
you and it is filmed."
Peggy gave a small smile, then opened her hand and stared at the zorkon ring. She
took a deep breath as she put it and the envelope of money into her pocket. "Then
perhaps...this isn't really 'good-bye'," she said.
"No...perhaps it's not," Kelly replied. They put their arms around each
other and hugged each other in a tight embrace.
"You put yourself into real danger. You should never have done that,"
Kelly said. She was standing outside of her house, with Piper and Alexis, where Stuart
wouldn't hear them.
"I was going to keep my promise to take care of Stuart," Alexis replied.
"Look - it's not as if I don't know what you're doing. As your friend, I was in the
middle of this anyway. And as your friend...I'll probably be involved in something you
"Regardless of what you know about us, that's not your job," Piper said.
"And it's not Stuart's job either," Alexis countered. "That plan to
keep him away from what you were doing, and thereby from danger, didn't work out very
well, did it Kelly."
"No...it didn't," Kelly admitted. "He..." She took a deep
breath. "...was almost killed at The Cannery, anyway."
"There are things that we can't control," Alexis said, "things that
we can't outsmart. They're going to happen regardless of what we do," she
added. "You can't keep him - or me - out of your life. I'm not anxious to put my
life in danger. But I'm not going to refrain from helping you when I can - and when you
need me to." She paused.
"The reality is that you certainly can't keep Stuart from doing that. You're
going to be married. Your lives will be - and already are - completely intertwined. As
your friend who really cares about you, take my advice. Accept that because of who and
what you are Stuart will be in danger. Because he's already accepted that about
Piper looked at Alexis, took a deep breath, then turned to Kelly. "Alexis is
right. You can't guarantee Stuart's safety anymore than we can guarantee our own."
She exhaled. "We have to just accept that. And do the best we can for
ourselves...and for each other.
"And that goes for you too, Alexis. You are part of us now. And we all
will watch out for each other."
Kelly sat down on the sofa, tucking her legs under her. Her comfortable burgundy
satin short robe, its squared-off bottom falling mid-thigh, was one she knew Stuart
liked. She took his hand in hers as she turned to him.
"I said I would explain about today," she began, with dread.
"I...wasn't really at the museum."
"I know," he said.
"You do?" she asked.
"You're very good at preparing exhibits. You would not have needed all day to
add whatever was missing. And anyway, knowing you as I do, nothing would have been
you finished arranging it the other day. And if you had been working on it today
you certainly wouldn't have had the time to chase after a spy assassin - here or in
"I'm sorry I lied," she said.
"You omitted things but didn't lie - Alexis did," he replied. "And I
know she lied only to help you. Now tell me why."
Kelly took a deep breath and cuddled closer to him. "I worry about you...about
you continually being in danger. And...getting hurt. I just...wanted to keep you safe
for a while. Away from...from my fighting evil. And the dangers that go with it."
Stuart took Kelly's face in his hands. "I know this is your calling. That you
won't stop using your powers for the greater good. And I worry about you being in
But I worry a lot more when I'm not with you. When I don't know what's happening
my mind thinks of..." He paused as tears came to his eyes. "When I'm with you
then we're in whatever it is together. And I can be there for you.
"I love you, Kelly. And being there with you - for you - is who I am. Just like
your being there to fight the evil is who you are. I won't ask you to stop being
yourself. Don't ask me to stop being myself."
Kelly closed her eyes briefly. When she opened them there were tears in them.
"I love you, honey," she said.
"Then we have a deal?" he asked.
Kelly nodded her head. "Deal," she said. She cuddled closer to him,
nuzzling her face in his neck. Then she straightened out her long legs and swung them
to him. Below her short robe, her bare thighs now stretched across Stuart's lap. When
he reacted to them, as she had wanted him to, she placed her lips on his and they
"I think it's time for bed," she said when their kiss ended. "It's
been a very long...'day'."
"It has, indeed," he agreed. Kelly stood up, took Stuart's hand and, with
a smile on her face, led him to their bedroom.
~ Author's Notes ~
Kelly's StarTAC model cellphone was the first clamshell/flip phone marketed. It
was an amazing success for Motorola when it was
The movies Howard Stark directed, that Stuart recounted for Alexis,
represent real movies.
The Blue Chrysanthemum
is a stand-in for the
The Blue Dahlia -
the two flowers are
in the same family - that did indeed star Veronica Lake. It was directed by George
is a stand-in for Gene Tierney's
China Girl, as much
of the movie takes place in Mandalay, Burma. It was directed by Henry
is a real museum in Palo Alto.
It houses a collection of over 5,000 artifacts
on invention and technology from 1750-1950.
Here is its
The de Young
is a real fine arts museum in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Here is its
Hydra-Matic to which Mr.
was introduced by General Motors as an option and was the first commercially successful
automatic transmission. Though most of the cars in use in 1947 were indeed
manual, as Mr. Jarvis said,
the majority of GM cars sold in the immediate post-war
years came with the
The Agent Carter TV series
was broadcast fifteen years after the events in this story. So Kelly could neither know
about the show nor be hinting to Peggy about it. But I do know about it and I
was hinting - author's prerogative.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~