On a barren landscape somewhere on Earth, energy beams flash down on the battlefield. A soldier, Quarlo Clobregnny, smokes a cigarette and waits for the enemy. The Enemy waits on the other side of the battlefield and eats some food concentrate. Voices sound over both their helmet receivers, telling them to find their opponents and kill. The two soldiers move out onto the battlefield and finally confront each other. As they charge toward each other, heat beams intersect at their location and create a time warp, sending them both to the past.
Quarlo materializes in an alleyway in the 20th century. He ducks into an alleyway and then sees a vendor at a newsstand sharpening a knife. Quarlo advances on him, and the man sees Quarlo's weapon and faints in fear. People panic and assume that Quarlo has killed the vendor as he ducks for cover, and Quarlo runs off. The police soon arrive to investigate the incident, and corner Quarlo in another alleyway. They open fire when they see his gun, and Quarlo shoots back and vaporizes their police car. One of them shoots, knocking Quarlo's helmet off, and he's deafened by the city noises. As he moans in pain, they run forward and handcuff him. The recorded voice in the helmet continues chanting "Kill".
The Enemy partially materializes in a field, and the voice in his helmet tells him to find the opponent. Despite being trapped, the Enemy uses a wrist unit to track Quarlo as the police take him to the GICD Psychiatric Security Section. Five days later, Dr. Tom Kagan presents his credentials and drives in. He meets with government agent Paul Tanner and explains that he's a language expert sent to unravel Quarlo's strange dialect. Paul explains that it took six men to put Quarlo in a straitjacket and the last thing they need is a philologist. The MPs arrive with a restrained Quarlo, who is still struggling against his bonds.
Quarlo is soon locked in a cell, and Tom and Paul watch him through a ceiling port. The future soldier paces his padded cell ceaselessly, looking for a way out. When the elevator goes off nearby, Quarlo clutches at his ears and screams in pain. Tom realizes that Quarlo's hearing is much sensitive than theirs and the helmet muffles the sound, and advises Paul not to give him the helmet. The doctor notes that Tom has radiation burns but the medical facility Quarlo was held at couldn't identify them. Quarlo calls out the same words over and over, and Tom notes that they're familiar but can't place the idiom. He tells Paul that he has to talk to Quarlo directly, and Paul warns that he's a walking bomb.
Paul finally gives in and lets Tom in under armed guard. Tom lights a cigarette and notices Quarlo staring at it, and offers it to him. Quarlo hesitantly takes it but discovers that it isn't self-lighting like the ones in his time. He lets Tom light his cigarette then draws back, and Tom starts by giving his name. Quarlo finally says that his name is Quarlo Clobregnny and recites his serial number.
The Enemy still struggles to withdraw fully from the time stream.
Tom listens to the tapes of Quarlo's recitations, and then informs Paul that Quarlo is a perfect infantryman and doesn't know anything else. He explains that Quarlo has been speaking English and that Quarlo has to trust him implicitly first or they'll lose him. Tom warns Paul that Quarlo is unique but not stupid, and tells the agent that Quarlo is reciting his name, rank, and serial letters.
The doctor continues working with Tom, trying to teach him English and figuring that he's playing dumb. Quarlo finally tears up a picture of a dog and when Tom says that he's giving up, Quarlo recites "dog" repeatedly. Tom figures that he knows what he's been saying but won't give him anything, and asks what he wants. He says that Quarlo is smarter than he would be in his place, and Quarlo angrily recites the words that Kagan has taught him.
Back in Paul's office, Paul tells Tom that Quarlo's weapon has an inexhaustible power source and only three moving parts. Tom says that he thinks he and Quarlo talked, and Quarlo is from the future. He relates what Quarlo told him about ending up in the present, and how Quarlo speaks in speeded-up English with lots of gutter slang. Tom explains how he used a map of the solar system to explain stars, and Quarlo plotting out the star systems to show that he's from 1800 years in the future.
Later, Tom shows Quarlo films of babies and tries to explain love and hate, and how the former is good and the latter is bad. When soldier lunges at the camera in the film, Quarlo destroys the screen and says that Tom is the idiot and should send him home because there's a war on. Tom tells him that they don't know how, and Quarlo tells him to "think speak" at him. When Tom puts his hand on Quarlo's soldier, Quarlo grabs him and says to never touch him. The soldier tears at the padded walls, and two MPs come in. Tom yells at them not to touch Quarlo, much to Quarlo's surprise.
As the doctor treats Tom's broken ribs, Tom tells Paul that it was his fault and no one has ever touched Quarlo before. He says that eventually he'll establish full communication with Quarlo, but Paul says that they can't let him in with Quarlo again. Tom admits that Quarlo was born and trained to be a killer, but he doesn't hate or love. He insists that he can't decipher Quarlo's language under his imprisoned condition, and asks Paul to release Quarlo to him so he can live in the Kagan house under normal conditions. Paul warns that it's not his decision and the Bureau wants Quarlo imprisoned permanently. Tom insists that Quarlo will show progress after a week with him and the Bureau will reconsider. He says that his wife Abby is willing to go along, and his two children Toni and Loren are fascinated. Paul figures that Quarlo is playing Tom but agrees to talk to his chief.
Soon the Bureau releases Quarlo into Tom's care. Quarlo doesn't understand the concept of "home" without barracks or a CO, and Tom tries to explain. He says that Quarlo will be close to the Kagan family, and takes him out into the sunlight. Tom gives him a coat to cover his uniform, and Quarlo hesitates. He admits that Tom isn't the enemy and lets Tom put the coat on him.
The Enemy finally materializes in the present and chuckles in triumph, and the voice in his helmet says to find the enemy and kill. The soldier uses his tracker to home in on Quarlo.
Abby, Loren, and Toni line up and when Tom brings Quarlo home, he introduces the soldier to his family. Quarlo is fascinated by the family cat Macbeth and "reports" to it as his CO. When the cat runs off, Quarlo explains that troopers and cats are telepathically tied together in his time and they use cats for reconnaissance. Tom explains that Macbeth is just a normal cat. When Abby hugs Tom, Quarlo wonders if she's an enemy or not, and Tom explains the concept of "family unit". Quarlo explains that he was born in the State's Clobregnny crèche and the State is all. Tom has Loren show Quarlo to his room, and then realizes that Quarlo is a product of artificial birth. Abby says that it's pathetic and wonders if they can help Quarlo, and Tom insists that they can help him and must.
As Quarlo's visit continues, he explains that his society is divided into two classes: migrant workers at the bottom and the "Purple Class" at the top. Tom tells Loren not to tell anyone that Quarlo is staying with them, using Quarlo's slang. Toni goes into the kitchen and finds Quarlo there. He angrily tells her to get out, and Toni refuses. Quarlo claims that he was drinking food, and says that they waste food in the garbage disposal. He asks what she wants from him, and raises his hand as if to strike her but then stops.
The Enemy arrives at the alley where Quarlo appeared, still searching for him.
Tom calls Paul, who says that he spent two days dealing with his superiors and they want to hand Quarlo over to the scholars. The doctor warns that it's taken two weeks of constant contact to convince Quarlo that he's not the enemy, and Quarlo will tense up on strangers. Tom insists that Quarlo is under control, but Paul isn't so sure. He gets a call about Quarlo, and then tells Quarlo that he's slipped out and broken into a gun shop. Tom and Paul go there separately, and Sgt. Berry tells him that Quarlo broke in through the front window and they have the place surrounded. Quarlo has a hunting rifle and Paul says that they'll use noise to distract Quarlo so they can capture him. Tom warns that Paul will have to kill Quarlo to stop him, and says that Quarlo will listen to him. He warns that everyone but Tom is the enemy to Quarlo, and Paul agrees to let him go in but warns that it's all finished.
Tom calls to Quarlo and then walks in. Quarlo says that a trooper needs a gun, and that he'll kill him. Tom says that then they'll kill Quarlo and there's no purpose in Quarlo dying, and insists on coming in. He goes in and then Paul calls Abby and says that they're going home but Quarlo refused to give up the gun. When they return to the Kagan house, Tom will try to talk Quarlo into giving up the gun. When he does, Abby should take the phone off the hook and then the Bureau agents will move in and grab Quarlo.
Tom and Quarlo arrive and Abby calls Toni and Loren down. The two men come in and Quarlo orders the family to stop. Abby asks Quarlo to let the children go to the kitchen, and Tom figures that they want to call the enemy. He refuses to give up the gun, insisting that troopers never give up their weapons, and Loren tells him that he knows Tom isn't the enemy. Tom promises that nothing will happen and he'll put the gun where Quarlo can get it when he wants, and Quarlo puts the gun down. Once Tom takes it, Abby secretly takes the receiver off the hook.
When Tom tells Quarlo that his running away helps people that want to move him to a different place, Quarlo demands to know who the people are. Quarlo figures that they're a CO and he's a POW, and doesn't believe Tom's explanation. He says that in his time there's only them and us, and the ones that lock him up are the enemy. The signal goes off on the phone, and Quarlo hears it and figures that Abby has betrayed him. Macbeth meows and Quarlo approaches it, trying to reach his CO.
The Enemy disintegrates the wall and bursts in. he sees the gun in Tom's hands and prepares to shoot him. Macbeth meows, distracting him, and Quarlo grabs the Enemy. The two men fight and the Enemy's gun goes off, disintegrating both of them.
Written by Gadfly on Mar 30, 2019