Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Microstory 527: Mysterious Savior May Not Have Abilities

If you live in a major North American city, you may have caught a glimpse of a mysterious woman flying around, saving people’s lives. If not, you have surely at least heard of her. Or rather, you’ve heard of the idea of her. She has yet to identify herself in any way, or even vocally communicate at all. She shows up, takes care of a problem, then leaves for her next job before anyone can so much as thank her. She travels at speeds faster than ever recorded using an open-air vessel more advanced than anything in the world. She’s extremely agile, and incredibly strong. She has been seen diving into freezing cold water, walking through fire, and even passing through walls unharmed. She carries two weapons that can be transformed into a number of different shapes. These can be like swords, batons, tasers, and many other shapes. She has not once hurt anyone except superficially, possibly because she generally doesn’t have to. Firstly, she mostly limits herself to helping people in accidental dangers; like burning buildings, and traffic collisions. When she does encounter pushback, assailants have attempted to do her harm, but have always failed. Bullets seem to just roll off her, and explosions just propel her in one direction, where she lands safely, like a cat from a table. She seems to show little to no emotion, as if programmed to carry out her missions with no feelings, but a duty to succeed. Some call her an angel, but most children refer to her as a superhero, citing her behavior and “abilities” as most closely resembling that of the fictional comic book character, WildFlyer.
She may not be alone. Various reports have cropped up around the world that have always been ignored, but are now being reexamined. Farmers in Tanzania claim one of their own has regularly altered the weather with nothing but his will. Two people in the midwest have been associated with the sudden recovery of a number of terminally ill patients. There is a rumor going around that hundreds of people have received organ transplants from a single individual. The military is not exempt from this either. Two special teams exist within the Confederate Military Force. It has been suggested that one of them involves people who can merge their bodies together, while another seems to be composed exclusively of supersoldiers. These claims cannot be verified. The only known person to possess superhuman abilities is the enigmatic woman in North America. However, authorities are not convinced that these are powers. Though she can be found in many places, she always looks the same. She always carries her special weapons, and she is always wearing her uniform, which includes cool-looking sunglasses. Scientists believe it’s possible that these are what give her such immense fortitude. They say that the things she can do are not necessarily out of the realm of reality…just that they are presently scientifically unobtainable. It is conceivable that this woman alone, or—more likely—an organization, has developed technology beyond that of current global trends. Fans and investigators have made numerous attempts to communicate with her, and hope that one day she will answer. For now, many of us are just thankful that she exists in the first place.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Microstory 526: Lactean Irritants Possess Cloning Technology

We all know the faces of the new Lactean Irritants. These invaders have been undermining our traditions since they first arrived. They are so set in their ways that they cannot even see what’s right in front of them...that our galaxy has the most freedom than any other in the universe. In Fostea, you can do whatever you want. You can charge whatever you want for whatever service you can provide. You can create, produce, change, and progress at your rate, and nobody can tell you that you’re doing is wrong. We don’t have regulations or requirements. All we ask is that you not interfere with anyone else’s business. If it doesn’t have anything to do with you then stay out of it. These Lacteans do not hold our same values. Unfortunately, the downside to our philosophy is that we, in turn, cannot effectively combat their advances. When our ancestors first set out to find our home, they did not anticipate being followed. Nor were they. It is only now that we have been discovered, and we must find a way to adapt to our new issues. Because the Lacteans certainly are.
Investigators now believe that the Irritants possess some kind of cloning technology that allows them to be in multiple places at once. It is unclear if these are decoys, full replicas, or even the result of quantum duplication. Current cloning technology is limited to crops, but scientists have long believed human cloning to be possible. Experts have not yet ruled out the possibility that these are merely highly advanced, and hyper-complex, holograms that The Lucifer has learned to create remotely. However they’re doing it, the Lacteans have, in multiple instances, been spotted in one place while also being spotted in another place altogether. Instantaneous travel would not explain these discrepancies as many of the sightings take place in “dead spots”: planets that can be accessed with plex transport, but where no Nexus can be found. There is simply no accounting for how they are able to get from one place to the other so quickly. So the only logical explanation is that they’re not; that what we are seeing are two different versions of the same people. A sanctioned investigation is in the works. Companies are currently bidding for the right and responsibility to carry out the inquiry. Please contact your local networker if you have any information regarding how the Irritants operate, or to contribute to the investigation or make your own bid.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: July 1, 2116

Click here for the 2017 table of contents.

A not insignificant part of Mateo thought that maybe the driving course in the middle of the jungle never existed, or would be taken away by the time he returned to the timeline. That was something The Rogue, or The Cleaner would do, just to make it more complicated. But no, Arcadia was not like that. Everything was as it was before. He left the 1967 Chevy Impala alone, knowing that it was not the kind of car you use to teach someone how to drive. It was time to be practical; this was especially important for someone born in 2089. Xearea needed buttons, and so that was what he was giving her. He chose to use a 2003 Ford Taurus SEL. When he flipped down the visor to find the keys, a note fell down along with them. This car is a gift from The Superintendent. He says he doesn’t need it anymore. Your Love Always...Arcadia Preston. The Superintendent. He sounded important.
“All right, first we need to go over driving prep. You don’t want to be adjusting anything while you’re actually on the road, so as you’re sitting there, make sure everything is in place. You can move the seat back and forth, up or down, and tilt it as needed. Not all cars have that, though. This right here is your rearview mirror. It needs to be giving you the widest view of everything behind you as it possibly can. The side view mirrors should take care of the rest.”
“What’s that?”
“That’s the button for the sunroof.”
She pushed it. “What this?”
“The radio. I, uh...don’t think it’ll work here.” She turned it on. Early 20th century alternative rock music started playing. “All right, that’s enough playing.”
“No, I need to know what these are. What’s in here?”
“That’s the glove box.”
“There aren’t any gloves in it.”
“People used to wear driving gloves, the name stuck. Can we move on?”
“No, what is this one, and this?” She pushed two buttons, one to release the hood, and the other the trunk.
He sighed. She was in her twenties, but acting like a child. “There’s a secret combination of buttons in this car that will blow it up if you push them. So if you don’t do what I say, and exactly only that, you could kill us both.”
She studied his face closely, trying to decide whether he was telling the truth or not. He was lying pretty well, he thought. She instinctively placed her hands on the steering wheel, indicating that she was done messing around.
“Now that’s good, you already have your hands at ten-and-two. They say it’s nine-and-three now, but I never bought into that. This is the best position to keep control of the vehicle.”
“Okay.” She seemed ready to take this seriously. “If I push this button again, is that thing in front of me gonna go back down?”
“No, I’ll have to get out and close both of them.” He first went around and shut the hood, then walked around back for the trunk. Just after it latched, the car ignited and took off. Xearea was going rogue.
A car pulled up beside him and opened its door. Xearea’s voice came from the speaker system, “come with me if you want to live. Get it...’cause how we met?”
“Are you speaking in realtime?”
“This is a recording, by the way.”
Mateo jumped into the car and let it take him into the course. Xearea had zipped all through the side streets, and was currently getting on the highway loop. “Computer, catch up to her and match her speed.”
“Understood,” a stranger’s voice answered. His driverless vehicle did as it was told and started closely following behind Xearea.
After a few laps around the loop, she merged onto an exit that hadn’t been there before. As they started driving along a curve, he could then see that there was no highway several meters in front of Xearea’s car. It was building itself just in time for her to drive over it. Was Kayetan Glaston, a.k.a. The Merger involved somehow?
The highway continued to build itself as they passed through and over trees, and then past the boundary of the island itself. They were now on the ocean, like they were just going to the next Florida Key over. “Dammit, Xearea, where are you taking us?”
Mateo kept an eye on Xearea’s car, and their surroundings for some time, but then grew bored of it. She obviously already knew how to drive, and she wasn’t going to stop until she was done. He hadn’t been getting very much sleep from all this stress, so he decided to take a nap.
The car’s voice woke him up, saying, “we have reached land.”
“How long has it been?” Mateo asked, sitting up.
“Seven hours, twenty-eight minutes,” the car answered.
He looked out the windshield to see something familiar. “Is this our island? Did we just drive in a circle?”
“We drove fairly straight the entire time,” the car said. “This is a different island.”
He opened the sunroof and stood up. They were just entering what was reportedly a new driving course, but it looked just like the first one. Xearea finally stopped her car in front of this second garage, and got out. Mateo stepped out as well.
She looked tired. “We’re here.”
“Where is here? What did you do? When did you learn how to drive?”
“Arcadia taught me over the year. I’m glad she did, because I would not have been able to get through your test with only two days of training.”
“Why would she do that? Where are we?”
“This is called Lorania. It’s another island on the same planet. It’s not too far from the mainland, actually.”
“Why are we here?”
“I have been tasked with teaching you one lesson. Or rather, I’m here to give you the opportunity to teach it to yourself. In fact, it’ll be your responsibility to determine what that lesson is.” She paused for a moment. “Follow me.”
They started walking through the forest. Mateo was rested enough for it, but Xearea just had to drive half a day, so she had to take a couple breaks. At last, they had arrived. They were standing in magical puddle. It was murky and dark, but there were also bits of light. He examined it for a moment, eventually realizing that it was reflecting, not the daytime sky above, but stars from some other point in spacetime. This was some kind of special water like the time mirror, or the time window on Easter Island. “Fascinating. What is it?”
“It is but one of many,” Xearea said. “You’ll find the other ingredients all over time and space.”
He closed his eyes in exasperation. “Oh my God, is this the immortality water again?”
“So you know it?”
“Yeah, the Cleanser gave me the chance to drink it during one of his tribulations. If I drank it, my pattern would stop, and I would lose Leona. If I killed the guy who was with me, I would be able to give the water to Leona as well. We both chose to leave.”
Xearea nodded. “Well this comes with stipulations as well. First, it’s going to take a lot of work to gather all of the ingredients. If you choose to take this challenge, the expiations will cease, however, you’ll never get back the people we’ve already lost. If you succeed in this challenge, you will be able to give however much water you have to whomever you want, including Leona. And your patterns will cease.”
“Well, that sounds real nice, but I can’t leave Baudin, Gilbert, and Samsonite like that. I promised I would get them back, and I would keep going even if I hadn’t promised.”
“She also said something about giving back your kiwi. I don’t know what that means. Is that your favorite fruit, or something?”
Oh, no. This was more complicated than before. Now he had to choose between his daughter, Kivi, and three of his friends. What was he supposed to do with that?
Xearea saw the struggle on his face. “Oh, I can see this has become more difficult. She didn’t give me a time limit on this. I assume you have until midnight central.
Mateo didn’t really need any time. He forced himself to look at it as a math equation. One life for three. There was no way he could choose using his heart, so the most logical choice was really the only one. The lesson Arcadia was trying to teach him here was that sometimes there is no high road. Sometimes your only choices are bad. He didn’t know the details, though. Was this an explanation for her siblings’ behavior? Was it an apology for herself? Was this a warning for the future, or a mirror for his own choices? Was this meant to make him a better person, or to show him what he’s lost? What was the point of this, if there was one? Maybe it was nothing. Maybe he was just meant to take it at face value; a choice between immortality or not. There was one lesson that he had already learned, and needed to call upon now. When a choosing one hands you something, and offers to not give it to you, always walk away. Yes, Rule Number Twelve, never accept something from a chooser unless you are given no choice. Eh, the syntax needed work.
He picked up a rock and dropped it into the puddle where it disappeared into the black. “Come on. I’ll drive us back, and program the driverless car to follow us.”
Xearea nodded and rested her head against his shoulder as he slowly walked them back towards the driving course. A man suddenly came out of the trees, carrying a spear, and in fighting stance. He was shirtless, and wearing only a loin cloth. “We mean you no harm,” Mateo tried to tell him.
The man jerked his eyes back and forth between them. He was also wearing his game face, and did not look like he was interested in talking this out. He finally decided what he was going to do. He reached the spear back and jammed the bottom of it into Mateo’s face. Everything went black. Click here for the next installment...

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Voyage to Saga: The Lost (Part VI)

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

Vearden opened his eyes. Above him he saw light filtering through bamboo stalks, and other trees. He could hear lots of jungle sounds; chirping, squawking, and rustling. But the sound that dominated his ears was that of buzzing. A mouse was using his chest as a little table to eat its seeds. It didn’t seem to be bothered by Vearden’s waking up. He took the little guy and placed him in his vest pocket as he was standing up. He was wearing a vest now. The buzzing was coming from bees. He couldn’t see a nest anywhere around, or really any particularly concentration of the bees. They were just all over the place; more than he had ever seen before. Fortunately, like the mouse, they weren’t bothered by his presence, so he just started walking in a random direction.
The buzzing eventually subsided a little, and were replaced by the sounds of people. He continued to walk towards it, and ended up in some kind of encampment. A few dozen people were going about their day. Some were building shelters, others fire. Some were sorting through luggage on the beach, while others were just resting. A man came in from his flank carrying a bundle of sticks. “Hey, excuse me...” Vearden tried to say, but the man just ignored him. He wasn’t being rude, it was more like he literally couldn’t even see Vearden. Likely no one could, if that were the case. This theory required further testing.
Vearden continued to walk through the camp, quickly seeing the wreckage of a plane about a football field away. It wasn’t smoking, or anything, so it had obviously crashed some time ago. The survivors had already gotten over the shock of it, and were just trying to figure out what to do next. He tried interacting with a number of people, but none of them could see him. He even took someone by the arm. She jumped and pulled herself away, trying to figure out what had taken hold of her, but was unable to find anything. So it wasn’t just that Vearden was in some kind of other dimension, he was invisible. He could use that to communicate with people, or he could protect them emotionally, and avoid touching anything. “All right, Shepherd!” he called out to the aether, confident that no one but her would be able to hear him. “What are you having me do here?”
He looked around, searching for The Shepherd, but she wasn’t there. It was worth a shot, though, right? Then he saw it. The Shepherd never showed herself, but someone else did. A young woman was staring right at him. It was either a coincidence, or an exception. She looked around as well, possibly noticing that the others could not see what she could. She said something to who could have been her older sister. The other woman nodded and went back to threading shoelaces. The younger woman waved Vearden towards her before walking into the woods. He followed her.
Once they were far enough away from camp to be heard, she stopped and turned to him. “Why can the others not see or hear you?”
“I’m not certain,” Vearden answered.
“Were you on the plane?”
“I was not.”
“So there are others here.”
“There is at least me. I assume we are on an island.”
“We wouldn’t have set up camp if we could have walked to civilization.”
“Where did you come from?”
In science fiction and fantasy stories, there’s often this concept of the “underworld”. Most people are just living in the regular world. They have nine-to-five jobs, they drink beer, and they watch trash TV. But then there’s all this other stuff going on that they have no idea exists. We could be talking vampires, aliens, people who can read minds, demons, whatever. It just has to be something so realistically hidden from the rest of the world that it’s technically possible it’s actually real for the audience, but they just don’t know it. The beginning of one such of these stories usually involves one or more characters stumbling upon the truth, and starting their adventure. While they’re at it, they’re charged with protecting their loved ones, the general population, and possibly the secret people. No one who doesn’t already know this truth can know, for it will have terrible consequences. Or maybe that’s just a load of horseshit, and these secret underworlds aren’t giving humans enough credit. Maybe they can handle the truth. Maybe this woman can too. “I’m from a parallel universe,” he said truthfully.
She nodded, not in surprise, but with caution. “Do you mean an alternate reality, or another timeline?”
“I do not.”
“How did you get here?”
“Someone very powerful can cross into other worlds, and she sent me here to help with something. If I succeed, I might get my friend back.”
“So you want me to help you help us?”
“That’s how it’s been going for me so far. Is there anything you need?”
“Besides getting rescued?”
“Besides that,” Vearden confirmed.
“Hmm...” she said, thinking. “Well, Stuart is teaching us how to hunt. Do you speak Japanese?”
“No, sorry.”
“Oh, too bad. Kazuo seems to have a lot to say, but we don’t know what.”
“I know more of those people’s names than yours.”
“I’m Monica.”
“Hi, Monica, I’m Vearden Haywood. Why do you think you can see me?”
She shrugged. “I’ve always been able to see things others can’t. It’s just never been quite so literal.”
Another young woman, maybe just a hair older than Monica came through the brush. “Monica, who are you talking to?”
“I see dead people,” Monica whispered, jokingly.
“You’re not well, are you?”
“I’m autistic.”
The other woman didn’t know what that meant.
“It means I’m fine, Danielle. I am not the way I ought to be...I’m just the way I got to be,” Monica answered with a song lyric that Vearden recognized from his own universe, which was strange. She turned back to Vearden. “Do that thing again you did with the arm.”
“What?” Danielle asked.
“No,” Vearden said.
“Come on, this is my universe, you have to do what I say.”
“No, I don’t.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“Just do it!”
“Fine.” Vearden gently placed his hand on Danielle’s shoulder.
She freaked out and stepped back.
“Told you!” Monica cried in delight.
“I should not have done that,” Vearden said out of immense regret.
Monica shrugged again. “She’ll be all right, she’s rich.”
Danielle started backing away more, like she had come across a snake.
“Isn’t that right?”
Danielle kept going.
“I see you, Danielle! I know who you are! I know what you did! I can see into people’s souls!”
Danielle turned and ran off.
That was weird. “Why did you do that?” Vearden asked.
Monica was still looking towards where Danielle had been. “She knows why. And deep down in her heart, she knows what she must do now. That’s all that matters.”
“Yeah, I’m lost.”
“Yeah, I’m not anymore,” she said with relief. “I see now why you’re here, especially since you’re obviously about to leave.”
“How do you figure?”
“Is that your bed over there?” She gestured behind him.
His bed from the hotel suite was just sitting in the middle of the woods. “It is, yes.”
“Well...unless your boss wants us to have sex, I think it’s probably just your exit.”
“I guess so.”
“It was nice meeting you, Vearden.”
“You too, Monica.” He turned away and muttered under his breath, “I think.”
“I heard that,” she said flippantly.
He sort of plopped himself onto the bed and started massaging his eyes. When he reopened them, he found the Shepherd lying next to him. “What was the point of that one?”
“Danielle has a lot of work ahead of her. In order for her to get it done, and get it done right, she needs to be honest with herself. Her lies are holding her back, making her sick.”
“And Monica?” Vearden asked.
“She plays her part too.”
He knew he wasn’t going to get any details, which was...whatever. He moved on, “what now?”
“You can have one night’s worth of sleep.” She stopped, and paced. She finally spoke again after a few minutes, “nah, you’ll get more than that. This next one is going to be weird. I mean, you see magic every day, because you don’t live in linear time. The next one is going to be different, though. You won’t be able to explain this magic away, not with the toolkit you have now. It’ll also be the most...menacing.”
“That doesn’t sound pleasant.”
“No, but you’ll be okay. Just, be sure not to get...” she paused for dramatic effect. “...left behind.” Click here for the next installment...

Friday, February 24, 2017

Microstory 525: Savons Are Barely Not Human

Ever since savons, elves, dwarves, and hiniaur were reintroduced to the world, scientists have been eager to learn more about them. We don’t know exactly where they came from, or how they came to be. All we know is how different they are than us. Elves are generally leaner, taller, and top-heavy when compared to humans. The bones in their upper body are denser than ours, which is why they are unable to swim. They can’t get their heads above water in order to breathe. What they lack in the water, they make up on land. They’re faster, stronger, tougher, and possess a greater amount of endurance. On the superficial side, they also have an almost silvery, powdery, tint of purple eyes and hair. Like elves, dwarves are known for their stamina. They require very little sleep, and are particularly adept at manual labor. They are, however, short and stout, and are technically capable of swimming. They’re nothing when compared to hiniaur, though, which are at their best in the water. Every hiniaur is born with gills, but not always in the same place of the body. They’re capable of walking around on land, but require considerable amounts of salt in order to survive. They will carry little pouches of salt around their necks in case they ever find themselves too far from saltwater. It is often unsettling when first meeting a hiniaur. They grow up normal to an adolescent stage, but then they stop aging. They’ll live nearly another 120 years, but will show no outward signs of it. Biologists believe they were created long ago in an attempt to cure aging; one that failed...but not completely.
Perhaps simultaneously the most interesting, and the least interesting, of the new races are the savons. They are noted for their tendency to speak in riddles and noncontextual metaphors. More research needs to be done, but they claim to have some kind of insight into the future; one that may or may not rival that of prophets. As far as their biology goes, they can possibly be considered the opposite of hiniaur. Their bodies age extremely rapidly for several years, before hitting a plateau, and appearing elderly for the rest of their lives, which will likely be somewhat longer than humans. Despite their advanced age, they are indistinguishable from humans, and some have even been hesitant to believe that they exist. Geneticists have found this to be not too far from the truth. Testing has shown that savon genes so similar to normal humans that results are often negligible. They appear to have such minor differences that it is almost not worth treating them as a separate human subspecies. A full report will be released to the public next month.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Microstory 524: Trackstar Uses Chemicals to Enhance Speed

No one in the world is faster than Alderic Krusen. That statement is meant to be taken literally, not as hyperbole. Just two months ago, when the track season began at Red Mountain East Tertiary School, Krusen was an unexceptional athlete, by his coach’s standards. He was good enough to make the team, but certainly no star. His parents saw his joining as an opportunity for him to stay in shape. They describe him as having grown up as a very active boy, running all over the neighborhood, unable to contain his own energy. They were worried, as exhausting as it was to keep up with him, that he was losing that as he grew older. He started getting more into video games, television, and other more sedentary activities. They thought he needed to get out more. He wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about the prospect, but he seemed trust their judgment, and was willing to give it a shot. Things changed just over a month ago. Krusen began to show signs of obsession. He would frequently skip class to workout, or run laps, and could often be seen training at night. His teachers gave him a little flexibility, not so that he would perform for his school, but because they collectively believed it to be in the best interests of his emotional state. What they didn’t know was quite how far he would take it.
Even after all this hard work, he was still not one of the best on the team. He was still not the fastest. And it was becoming clearer every day how important to him that was. His behavior began to change more. He started distancing himself from his friends, and failing to come to class almost altogether. He continued to pass tests, and do excellent on his home assignments, but he no longer showed any interest in academic studies. And then one day, it happened. He teammates describe a completely different person walking onto the field that day. He was dressed differently, sported a new haircut, and even carried himself unlike the old Alderic Krusen. He had managed to change how people perceived him in nearly every way, and he knew it. He invited himself to a practice race that he was not scheduled to be a part of. The student he was replacing didn’t seem to mind all that much, so the coach let it happen. The buzzer went off, and the racers did too. Krusen just stayed put, crouched at the starting line, featuring a full game face. He wasn’t exhibiting overconfidence; it was more like it didn’t matter to him when the race was supposed to start. He was going to run when he was good and ready.

The other racers were nearly halfway through their first lap before Krusen finally took off. At first, he was running at about the same speed as he normally did. Then he was moving faster, and then as fast as their top runner. Then he was moving even faster. And then he was moving faster than the previous record-holder for the fastest person in history, Velita Giese. And then he was moving faster than physics says any human should even be capable of running. Spectators say that he would have lapped his teammates twice, and crossed the finish line, by the time they finished their first lap. They were not able to find out, though, seeing as that the other races were too astonished by what was happening to keep going. For one brief moment, Krusen was ecstatic at finally having won a race. Then he looked around, then at his watch, and his face changed. He lowered his head under his shoulders, having presumably realized his mistake. After questioning by his coach, his favorite teacher, his parents, and even detectives of science, Alderic Krusen revealed that he did not complete the race on his own. He had first injected himself with some kind of unique drug that increased his speed. He turned the performance-enhancing drug over to the authorities at SDS, absolutely refusing to reveal its source. Insiders say that scientists are currently analyzing the drug to determine its properties. What Krusen did was illegal, but it could have potentially astounding applications in a number of fields. We will update when results are released from the laboratory.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Microstory 523: The End of Time…Travel

Time travel has been corrupting the fabric of reality for an incalculable amount of time, or so says the Linear Timeline League. The LTL is a nonprofit organization, that doesn’t really exist. Numerous attempts have been made to create it, but all have failed. All incarnations of it exist only within the collapsed version of an alternate reality. It’s quite clear to most that, every time someone succeeds in creating the LTL, someone else goes back in time to stop it from happening. In response to this frustration, a second and separate organization was created; this one called TimeFire Anonymous. Unlike the LTL, the TFA is run by a mysterious group of people equipped with incredibly impressive and productive temporal manipulation technology. Their manifesto, which you can read in full on their website, cites the LTL’s faults. They were unable to legitimately promote the concept of a linear time-only reality, because they are just at an inherent and inescapable disadvantage. The TFA, on the other hand, has chosen to fight fire with fire.

Other counter-time travel agencies exist, but all of them are dedicated to protecting the timeline in a more ad hoc capacity. They have no ambitions to stop temporal manipulation altogether, but to prevent crime, or bring criminals to justice. The TFA finds their inaction to be abhorrent, and is actively looking for a way to end time travel completely. Many believe their endeavor to be meaningless, even with their willingness to play by the same rules as everybody else in the galaxy. What technology could one even possibly invent that’s capable of halting time travel? One second of a dip in power, and one person can slip back in time and prevent this hypothetical device from being built, forcing its creators to start all over again. The simple truth, in the eyes of the TFA’s detractors, is that the cat is out of the bag. Once time travel was discovered, it could not be undiscovered. Sure, maybe the moment in the timeline that it happened has changed—it’s even likely that this has happened, with few people even knowing about it—but fathoming a galaxy where it doesn’t exist at all is not something most people can fathom. The laws of logic shouldn’t even allow the possibility. Enter Panikon, stage left.
The Panikon is a hypothetical machine that would be enfixed to a certain point in time. It cannot be tampered with, and it cannot be stopped. Once it’s created, much like time travel itself, it cannot be uncreated. It would send a single both forwards, and backwards in time, reversing every instance of temporal inconsistency. It would indeed accomplish what most believe to be impossible; stop time travel from being discovered. Once activated, we would all go about our days without having any inkling that time travel was ever a thing. TimeFire Anonymous claims to be close to this one final solution to what they consider to be the “problem of nonlinear timer”. I’m not sure if this is true, but this journalist feels the need to take this opportunity to voice her support for their effo—TIMELOCKS FOR LIFE! SUCK IT, TFA!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Microstory 522: Anakro Biotech Reawakens Extinct Animals

Biogenetic engineering firm, Anakro Biotech has been working on a top secret project for the last few years. Rumors milled about that they were developing an illegal human subspecies, but the president of Anakro, Stoyan Kirchner has made an official announcement, assuring the public that this could not be further from the truth. The following are his opening statements.

When I was a child, I would sneak out of the house and visit the city’s Museum of Natural History. I thought I was pulling a fast one on my family, and the guards I stealthily snuck by to get into the building. What I found out later was that they were all in on it. My parents bought for me a secret season pass to the museum, and all the guards knew that I was actually meant to be there. They must have had a few good laughs at my terrible impression of the Agent Kangaroo cartoon as I was trying to avoid detection. I was never very interested in the future, though I recognize that a lot of what our company does involves solving the world’s problems for a better tomorrow. What I’ve always been fascinated by were extinct animals. I find it heartbreaking every time I pass a model of a northern mandible shark, or a painting of blue eyed finty. These were amazing...glorious specimens, and one thing they had in common was that they were both destroyed by human expansion, among a great deal many others. It may not be sexy, and it may not further progress for the human race, but I’m passionate about this project.

At this point, the president directs a tech to open the curtain behind him. This reveals a tank with a single swimming shark, above which is a cage with a bird in it.
The first blue eyed finty in 230 years.
Ladies and gentleman, I present to you Manny, the first northern mandible shark since 1725. Above it, that ball of feathers skipping across branches and stones, is Fendor, the blue eyed finty. He’s named after my favorite high king of the Straight Arrow fantasy book series, and I promise you that he is not in distress. Fintys are known for their inability to stay in one place for too long. If they don’t find food in ten seconds, they leave...evolution’s way of playing the odds. This world has not laid its eyes on the blue eyed variety of finty since the first industrial revolution in 1598. These are just two examples of what we’ve been working on in the Special Projects Division of Anakro, engineering species that were lost to time by experimenting with trace DNA, and anecdotal accounts. They’re the only ones we felt would be comfortable enough around an audience. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be releasing information—and yes, pictures and video—regarding our other new friends. A team is also putting the final touches on a proposal for the Worldwide Animal Guard, hoping to develop ways of reintegrating these new, but old, creatures into the ecological framework. I will now be answering questions.

To watch the full announcement, please see the embedded video below. [Not approved for Earthan viewing].

Monday, February 20, 2017

Microstory 521: Vampir-Human Hybrid Baby Dies

On an unusually warm winter’s day in Raglin Park, a kaidas broke free from its leash and ran after a miacid. It started hopping over its new friend before headbutting it, which is how most goats get to know each other. The miacid was curious, but older, and more restrained. Still, the miacid eventually warmed up to its buddy, and suddenly pushed it into a nearby pond to show both dominance and affection. Their owners watched with smiles, both confident that neither of their pets would do anything they weren’t supposed to. That was how Walter Whitaker and Jovita Daelman first met. Walter is a vampir, and Jovita a human, but they were close to the same age. They met up for tea the next day, and things started escalating. Over time, the two of them fell in love, and two years ago, they were married at their special spot in Raglin Park. Both of them wanted children, but always knew that they would not be able to conceive one together. Humans and vampirs are not genetically compatible. There have been rumors of hybrids in the past, but scientists have been unable to corroborate these claims. And so, Whitaker and Daelman were content to adopt, which they did in the form of a five-year-old boy named Oscar.

They were recently thinking about expanding their family when a miracle happened. Daelman discovered that she was pregnant. They flew to a specialist in Iceland to confirm her condition, and learned that it was completely true. This was the first legitimately recorded case of a vampir-human hybrid. They remained in Iceland for the duration of the pregnancy so that a team of specialist could care for Daelman and her unborn baby girl. According to rate of development, Daelman’s due date was approximated at ten months after conception. This splits the difference between a standard human gestation period of eight months, and a vampire’s of twelve. The pregnancy went swimmingly, and the family was excited for the next chapter in their lives. The baby was born with no obvious medical conditions. It possessed characteristics of both human and vampire. Overall, it was a happy and healthy baby. Then things took a turn. The infant’s blood was trying to use both iron, and cobalt-magnesium alloy, in order to carry oxygen throughout its body. This was causing the body to reject all oxygen flow. In layman’s terms, the organs were unable to extract the oxygen properly, because they were confused about what methods to use. Little Adela Bryn was unable to breathe for herself, and was placed on a permanent respirator for two days. Unfortunately, not even this was enough to keep her alive, and she succumbed to her condition last night at 18:07 CCT. The family thanks all followers of their story, and will announce memorial services at a later date. They have revealed that they will not adhere to the customary four-day tradition.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: June 30, 2115

Click here for the 2017 table of contents.

Things were awkwardly silent when Mateo was sent back to his own body in 2114. He found himself lying on the ground, the movement of the sun making it clear that time had passed while they were in the past. Their bodies had just been left there in the present, empty. They were all now waking up, and struggling to get to their feet. Atrophy, Mateo guessed, was responsible for their muscle weakness. Fortunately, none of them had left their bodies by the beach at low tide. Or no, maybe someone had, because someone was missing. Oh no, that’s right. His mysterious daughter, Kivi never existed. Mateo looked over to Lincoln, wondering whether he could remember Kivi from the other timeline, but Lincoln gave nothing away. Arcadia was right about the other thing, that there was someone with them he didn’t recognize.
“Is everybody okay?” Leona asked, having recovered physically faster than most.
“That was, uh...” Horace said, “not pleasant.”
“I—” Mateo started to say, but a few others had intended to speak at that moment, and were talking over each other.
“Well,” Samsonite said, “I think that Mateo should be the one to speak, if he so chooses.”
“Thank you, dad,” Mateo said. He realized he had never called him that, nor was it entirely true. He was like a stepfather he barely knew, standing right next to a birth father he barely knew, while the adoptive father he did know was dead. “Unless anyone has any objections, it might be best if we put a general moratorium on the Ashton Kutcher Experience that we all just went through.”
“The what?” Xearea asked.
“The butterfly effect,” Leona explained.
“Oh,” Xearea replied.
“I believe we should institute a—and forgive me for this—don’t ask, don’t tell policy. Please, do not be afraid to disagree with this.”
It didn’t look like anyone wanted to talk about it either. Vearden was nodding, “yeah, I think that’s probably for the best.”
“I...” Mateo didn’t know how to bring it up, especially after his declaration. “I do feel I need to say...” He pointed towards the woman only he apparently saw as a newcomer. “I do not know this woman.”
She looked to her left, and then to her right, and then she pointed to herself. “Me?”
“Mateo, that’s Angelita Prieto. Mario’s wife?”
“Mario has a wife now.”
“For a while now, from our perspective, and yours,” Mario explained.
“Okay. Um...could everyone just...go about their day, so I can get to know my new step-mother. Sorry I don’t remember. Time travel, right?”

Mateo spent the rest of his day getting to know Angelita, who generally went by the name of Lita. They had apparently met when Mario was on a sort of vacation-slash-sabbatical in 2017 Spain. Yes, as it turned out, Mario was sometimes awarded breaks. Lita remained in her time period while Mario was working, traveling back and forth in time. He would sometimes be gone for days at a time, but no longer than that. Their timelines started running parallel so that, when Mario was gone for x amount of time, Lita would not see him for that same amount of time, as if he were doing nothing more than traveling out of town for business. Ten years later, they were both plopped onto Tribulation Island, but a few decades in the future. They both had memories of living here ever since.
Upon landing in 2115, Mateo found Samsonite to be missing. During breakfast, he spoke of Samsonite, and tried to give everybody a good idea of how they knew him. Aura was the most hesitant, but she trusted that Mateo wasn’t just straight up lying to everybody. Leona and Paige both had distorted memories of him, thanks to the remnants of his that they had never taken off. Leona was wearing his hat, while Paige was wearing his wedding ring, and those were enough to keep him tethered to their personal reality.
After breakfast, they spread out to get water, or tend to the fire. Mateo found Xearea hastily scribbling on a piece of paper with both hands. When he touched her shoulder, she flipped out and tried to stab him with the pen. Once he stepped back and gave her some space, she went back to her project. This was another trance. The instructions were probably too complicated to be spoken. When it looked like she was nearing completion, he raised his arms, and his voice. “Huddle up!”
Everybody stopped what they were doing and came over. Xearea, still in the trance, handed Mateo a list of their names, paired up together. She then looked to the crowd and spoke in that same creepy monotone the others had. “The Keirsey Temperament Sorter is a personality test designed to separate people into sixteen distinct categories. Though Samsonite was not technically a teacher, he did have a latent passion for helping people find their potential, enrich their lives, and achieve their goals. I have put you into groups of two. Each of you will teach your partner something you know, while learning something they know. My vessel has written further details, but it will be up to you to devise a legitimate test of accomplishment. You will have today to devise your lesson plan. School starts tomorrow, and your respective tests must be passed by the end of July 2, 2117.”
After the speech, Xearea started passing out slips of paper to everybody that explained what they were supposed to teach their partner. Mateo was the one with the partner list, and so he read it off while the real Xearea was coming back and recovering. “Okay, I guess we should all find quiet places to talk. Give your partner an overview of what you’ll be teaching them before starting the plan. Arcadia said nothing about keeping the lesson plan from your partner until you start, so I would say you can work on it together. Afterall, you have to know how versed in the subject they already are.”
Mateo’s birth father, Mario raised his hand. “Um, I don’t have a partner.”
“There’s an odd number of us,” Leona noted.
Mateo turned over the list to the other side. “Oh yeah, it says here you have to jump through time and find someone to teach and learn from. I don’t know if you will be able to find them yourself, or if you’ll be assig—” He chose not to finish his sentence after Mario suddenly disappeared. “Good luck,” he said after a preparatory sigh.
Xearea took Mateo by the hand and walked him into the forest. “Do you know where we’re going?”
“I thought you did,” Mateo said as he was watching Leona move off with Vearden. He carried with him the least education, so that made sense. But what would he be teaching her?
“I do know, I just don’t know what kind of memories you have of this place. Do you know what’s here?”
“Well, there were tons of buildings that have since been torn out of time, and you people don’t remember them. I think the Colosseum replica still exists, and I know we had a few huts on the other side of the island.”
“That’s not all,” Xearea said with a smile.
“Then what?” The smile was contagious.
“I think I’ll let you be pleasantly surprised. It’s the only true sign of civilization that we have here.” She kept smiling as she led him through the forest for well over a mile, never letting go of his hand.
When finally they had arrived, Mateo knew that she had been right. He was surprised, and it was actually kind of exciting. It was a gigantic driving course, even larger than the ones in the real world. There was even a raised highway, and building fa├žades along the ‘city streets’. “Holy shit.”
“Holy shit is right,” Xearea agreed.
“When did who build this?”
“We don’t know. Vearden found it when he was out hunting many years ago.” Ah, hunting. That was probably what he was teaching Leona. “Nanotechnology obviously created it in a short amount of time, but we didn’t hear anything. You haven’t even seen the best part. She took him over to the only real building, and lifted the overhead door. In it, he could see dozens of cars of all makes and models, from all time periods. This was just the first floor of three, and it looked like there might be underground levels too.
“When this place was the hub; in the timeline that I remember, Baudin once spoke of adding a driver’s ed course, along with a garage like this. Theoretically, salmon could drop by and check out a car like a book from a library. If they were from a time before or after human-operated vehicles, or if they were going to be assigned a vehicle class they weren’t certified in, we would teach them.” He started rubbing his fingers on the hood of a 1967 Chevy Impala. “He never built it, though. I wouldn’t have been available for more than one day a year; if that, and the powers that be sent the emissary to inform him they wouldn’t allow it anyway.”
“It’s obviously more interesting to watch salmon struggle to learn something strange on their own.”
“Exactly. So why is it here now, in this timeline?”
“Maybe Arcadia commissioned it to be built,” she suggested. “She probably knew what most, if not all, of the expiations were going to be.”
“Yeah, maybe. Or maybe it’s proof that you can’t ever tear someone out of time completely.”
“Like a giant remnant?”
“A remnant that you can drive.” He was still eyeing that Impala. “Don’t know about you, but I could use a break.”
“Well,” she started smiling again. “This is nonstop for you. I get yearlong breaks.”
“I don’t need to design a new curriculum. I already know how to teach someone to drive.”
“In that case, let’s just...have some fun.”

“So you don’t know how to drive!” Mateo called over to Xearea as they were cruising down the highway with the windows down.
“Never needed to! I was turned into the Savior before I was of age, and it didn’t matter, because we don’t have human-operated cars in my time!” She called back. “And can we close the windows?”
“Yeah, okay!”
She just stared at the door.
“It’s that knob thing by your knee!—You turn it!—No, the other way!—There ya go. First lesson...in the bag.”
“How did you survive the early 21st century?”
“We used buttons by then. This car is even older.”
“Then why are we in it?”
“You feel that vibration?”
“That’s why. They got rid of it in new cars.”
“Gee, I can’t understand why.”
He smiled. “That’s okay. It’s not for everyone. I’ve forgotten how good it feels to have this...”
“Average sized-penis?”
“Power,” Mateo finished, ignoring her remark. He then changed the subject, “so what you’re you gonna teach me?”
“I’m not allowed to say.”
“What? What does that mean?”
“I’m not allowed to say,” she repeated.
He knew he had to let it go, so he just kept driving. They drove a few more cars before the novelty wore off. Then he left her alone for the rest of the day so she could work on her own curriculum. Click here for the next installment...