Saturday, April 16, 2016

Second Stage of Something Started: Choice (Part I)

Click here for the first series (Seeing is Becoming).

A series of bizarre events occurred over the course of decades for the two time-traveling adventurers, Saga and Vearden. After their first transplanetary mission as salmon, they spent what they thought would be the rest of their lives on Earth, during two time periods in the past. For the second period, they turned out to be the parents of their resurrected friends, which was this whole thing that nobody expected. Throughout all this, both of them aged at a normal rate, so they were old people by the time The Delegator beckoned them back to his Stonehenge office. As soon as they passed through the doors, their bodies transformed and regressed back down to spring chickens. Now that might sound like a gift, but it meant that they were still beholden to the wishes of the powers that be; the ones who were manipulating and controlling them, along with other unwilling time travelers. If Saga and Vearden could be de-aged so easily, then there was a distinct possibility that they would be forced to carry out the powers’ wishes literally forever.
“I had hoped you would be finished with us,” Saga lamented.
“What would make you think that?” the Delegator asked.
“We just spent the majority of our lives with Sam & L,” Vearden explained. “Was half a lifetime not enough for you people?”
“I believe the powers that be considered that to be a vacation for you,” the Delegator said.
“They need a dictionary then.”
“We can’t fight it, Vearden,” Saga said before directing her attention to the Delegator. “Just tell us what we’re supposed to do.”
“Do you not remember? You’re The Freelancers. You get to choose.”
“Then we choose to go to the year 2030 so that we can be reunited with her son and my daughter,” Vearden put forth with a spark of hope that it might work.
“How do you know that that’s where they are?” The Delegator was confused. “They were moving towards the past.”
“When we were in the past,” Saga began, “we did not encounter any other salmon. But we did when we were in the 21st century. That’s where all the action is. So you sent them back there. Go ahead and try to tell me I’m wrong.”
“No, you’re right, that’s where they are. I still find it interesting that you intuited that. But I’m afraid I can’t so much as tell you if you joining up with them is an option,” the Delegator said honestly. He gently waved his arm to the stone openings around him. Stonehenge was more complete at this point in time, whenever it was. All the stones were set up where they belonged. But through each doorway was a bridge to a unique scene. Some portals were of modern day, some of greenery, and some appeared to be alien planets.
“Oh right,” Vearden scoffed. “This is about our choice.” He used air quotes.
“Have you ever seen that show where—”
Saga interrupted him, “you get television reception out here?”
The Delegator ignored her and continued, “...that television show where hopeful buyers stand in front of a self-storage unit belonging to someone who failed to make their payments?”
“No, but I am aware of what you’re talking about. It’s an auction.”
“Right, well the game is that bidders are only allowed to see the contents of the unit for a few minutes before deciding whether they want any of it.”
“Are you developing an analogy between junk so useless that the original owners abandoned it, and our next harrowing mission?”
“Well when you say it like that,” the Delegator said with frustration, “you can make anything sound ri-goddamn-diculous.”
Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the cold stone table he most likely sleeps on.”
“It’s just that I had this whole speech planned about your destiny, but you ruined it with your attitude,” the Delegator said grumpily.
Saga and Vearden looked at each other telepathically. She sort of rolled her eyes, but more like a mother for an unruly child, and less sarcastically. “We’re sorry. You can give your speech. We promise to listen and respect you. You are valuable to us.”
“Thank you, that’s really sweet. But the moment has passed, and we just need to move on. Literally.” The Delegator pointed to the stone doorways again. “Take your pick. I sincerely don’t know where they lead. I can’t even be sure they’re not random moments.”
They began to walk around the perimeter to get a better view of each one. Before them were twenty-eight choices, and none of them looked better than any of the others. They discussed a bit what they were looking for in an environment, since that’s all they had to go on. They were rather tired of the past, even though that’s where they raised their children. Not having access to running water was a massive bitch. More than that, though, Saga had no interest in traveling to an alien planet. Vearden, on the other hand, always felt the best Doctor Who episodes involved them. The last time they encountered aliens, they didn’t have the best time, but after all they had been through, it was barely a footnote in their lives; one they had all but forgotten. Decisions, decisions.
“I like this one,” Vearden said. “About as much as a guy can like a place he’s never been to and knows nothing about.”
“You just want to have sex with a green-skinned alien,” Saga complained. “Like Star Trek.”
“You don’t?”
“This one looks nice.” Saga presented the doorway like a model on a game show.
“You just want to take a picture of the pyramids as they were being built.”
“You don’t?”
“Rock, paper, scissors,” Vearden suggested.
“We’re not children anymore.”
“I’ll allow it,” the Delegator said, then added, “but if you end up in a tie, then I get to choose.”
“We’re supposed to be the ones to chose.”
The Delegator smiled slyly. “Yes, but you’re not choosing. You’re letting fate decide. I am fate’s emissary.”
The two friends who were supposed to be partners, and always be working together, looked to each other for answers.
“Unless you can come to a consensus.”
“Deal,” Vearden said.
“Vearden,” Saga whined.
“We’re never going to agree.” Vearden placed his hands in the ready position.
Saga placed hers at the ready as well. “I guess we’re doing this.”
The door-walking Freelancers reluctantly stepped through a portal chosen by the Delegator. Saga was sure that she had chosen rock, but her hand had somehow ended up in paper. How did that happen? In the end, she was forced to shake it off, for she had realized where they were. The image shown before made it just look like a stone passageway. It was only after walking through and gaining perspective that they could see things for what they really were. The architecture had fallen apart, but appeared to be at least partially restored.
A man they did not recognize teleported in front of them and offered his hand. “Welcome...” he paused for effect before continuing, “to The Colosseum.”
“What are we doing here?”
“I wanted you to see the original version of what you’re going to be building for me. Well...I suppose it’s not the original, but I’m just a lowly jumper, so I can’t take you to Ancient Rome.”
“Why are we building it if it already exists?”
“This one’s fallen apart! I need a new one.” He finally took his hand back, confident that no one was going to shake it. “And I need it built far enough away from people that they won’t bug me about it.”
“Why would the Delegator want us to do this for you?”
“I have nothing to do with the Delegator.” He curtsied. “My name is Makarion.”

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