Missy’s Mission

Simba Baby

Melissa Calluna Atterberry was born on April 7, 2018 not far from her parents’ home in Surrey, British Columbia, which was located just meters from the U.S. border. Her family wanted her to possess dual citizenship between both countries. As soon as they found out her mother was pregnant, they began to make inquiries about special permission for a border birth. As it turned out, their daughter would have dual citizenship, regardless of which side she was born on, because her father was Usonian. Still, the idea of giving birth right on the line fascinated them, so they continued to press the issue. They were ultimately granted authorization for this, but only for the good publicity. Representatives from each country wanted to acknowledge, solidify, and demonstrate the good relationship between them, in a very public setting. Though, of course, the media was not allowed in the trailer they retrofitted as a cleanroom, they were called in when the time came, and reported from outside.
Two separate audiences gathered in either half of Peace Arch Park. Missy’s future uncles sold snacks and memorabilia. Her aunts put on a singing performance, along with a local band. Since the moment couldn’t be planned too far in advance, the people who showed up were just the ones who could drop what they were doing at a moment’s notice. Once Missy had come into the world, and passed the initial health test, her grandfather carried her out of the trailer, and presented her to millions of people watching the feed on the internet. The people called her Simba Baby, a nickname she outgrew when she found out she was a choosing one, and her unorthodox birth was no longer the most interesting part about her.
She was ten years old when she her parents took her on a vacation by Brooks Lake, in Wyoming. With them came a family of friends, including a boy named Harvey, who she had been friends with since forever. He was four years older, and taught her a lot of things about life, all of which she later had to question. When they were alone on a walk in the woods, he decided it was time to attack her. He had put a lot of work into their relationship, and he was cashing in on what he deserved from her. She said no, but it didn’t matter. He didn’t take no for an answer. She tried to push him away, but he pushed back. She tried to run away, but he ran after her. She had power, though, and he was no match for it. She could create temporal bubbles that slowed down, or sped up, time for anyone and anything inside of it. Just before he could catch up to her, she created one of these out of instinctual desperation. He was practically stuck in time, moving in slow motion. She stopped and watched, knowing that she had done this, but not knowing how. Worried she wouldn’t be able to hold the bubble for an extended period of time, she tried to run away again, but nearly collided with another man.
“Very good job,” the man said. He was much, much older. “You couldn’t have picked a better time to figure out what you could do.”
“Who are you?” she asked, still more frightened than she had ever been.
“Not a friend,” he replied coldly. “But no one deserves this.” He started walking over towards the boy, who was still struggling to get back to realtime. “No one deserves what he was about to do to you, so I’ll take care of him for you.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means you should go,” he said.
“What does that mean?” she repeated.
He casually brushed his fingers against the wall of her time bubble. “I can do what you can do. Let me show you a trick. Instead of slowing them down, you should speed them up.” He grabbed onto the wall, and gritted his teeth. The boy inside of it started bashing himself against the edges, at incredible speed, trying to get out of it. Eventually, though, he had to give up. He quickly starved to death, and his body decayed, right before Missy’s eyes. “I hope you appreciate my sacrifice,” the man said. “I don’t usually kill children, which is why I’m letting you go...for now. In fact, I’ll protect you your whole life. That is, until your time comes. Enjoy your powers,” he said as he was walking away. “Because whether you use them or not, I’ll eventually kill you for having them.”
He hadn’t lied about that. Missy’s life was in danger far more often than the average for any one person. She tried asking her parents about her powers, but they had no clue what she was talking about. They freaked out when they saw what she could do, and they didn’t want anything to do with them. She could stay with them, if she wanted, but she wasn’t allowed to make time bubbles, and she wasn’t allowed to talk about them. She agreed to their conditions, but literally the day she turned eighteen, she left the house, and never returned. She went looking for other people like her, eventually discovering there to be this huge network of choosers, as she learned they were called. Her life continued to be threatened, as some people she met with powers were dangerous, and others were simply reckless. The man from before did as he promised, appearing whenever his services were needed. Despite how much time had lapsed, he was never any older, and never any nicer. The older she got, the closer he seemed to be to doing what he said he would, and killing her. She didn’t know exactly what he was waiting for, but she did not feel the need to find out.
She met some good people along the way too, many of whom helped her try to escape her fate. They took her all across time and space, sometimes even to other planets. At some point, she learned of a special prison called Beaver Haven. Technically, it was for any choosing one who had committed some crime that an arbitrary group of people with time powers decided was too far over the line. They were known, however, to also allow law-abiding time travelers in, who needed protection from others. Yet the evil man found her there as well, and easily broke her out of it. Still, he didn’t kill her, and she was starting to think that stalking her was more important than the violence he was planning to inflict on her.
She sought refuge on a place called Tribulation Island, which was located on millions of lightyears from Earth, on a planet owned by a woman named Leona Matic, called Dardius. Leona had been involved with the murder of the evil man who had been stalking Missy all this time. Unfortunately, time travel being what it was, a younger version of that man was still free to torment her, for he had not yet gone back in time, and died. But because of the nature of his death, he could do no harm to Leona, which meant she was the safest person to be around in the whole spacetime continuum. So Missy began to follow her around, with a group of girls on a mission to find The Last Savior of Earth. They ended up on yet another planet, this one called Durus. Having been long ago ejected from its solar system, it was somehow linked with Earth, and carried with it unusual temporal properties of its own. There were rumors that somewhere, somehow, Durus was capable of removing someone’s powers. Though she loved what she could do, these powers were too dangerous to keep, so if there was any chance of ridding herself of them, she had to go for it. A friend of hers from the group, Dar’cy Matigaris even agreed to stay with her, as a personal security guard. If anyone in history could stop The Cleanser from hurting Missy, Dar’cy was it.
At the moment, the two of them were seeing their friends off in the ship that had brought them there, The Warren. Missy didn’t know if staying behind was the right call, but it was the best one she could come up with at the time. Even though she might never be able to get back home, and see people she loved ever again, this was perhaps the only path to take. She would at least be alive, assuming any of this worked. They still had no idea where on Durus they were meant to go, what they were meant to do, or whether the whole thing was just one big lie.
They were standing next to a paramount—which was just this world’s word for chooser—who could instantly transport massive objects from one place, to another. She did her trick with the ship, sending it straight into orbit, and it was done. Now there was no turning back. “Well, what do we do now?” Dar’cy asked.
“Right now, we go back to the house that Andromeda built for her wife and child,” Missy declared. “We get something to eat, we get some sleep, and we start looking for answers in the morning.”
“Where might we find those answers?”
“I suppose we should start at the library, where all good research originates.”
When they arrived at the house, a man was there, waving his hands at it, creating ripples in the air.
“What the hell are you doing?” Dar’cy demanded to know, stepping between him and Missy.
“Oh, I was asked to create wards here,” he responded, stopping his work.
“Create what?”
“Wards. People can’t use powers in or around the building. And they can’t step foot in here without your permission.”
“Who asked you to do that?” Dar’cy questioned.
“I did,” he said. “I received a time message from my future self, asking me to help you. I can show it to you. I put it through an authenticator, it definitely came from me.”
“That may be so,” Dar’cy began, “but we don’t know if we can trust your future self any more than we can trust you.”
“You can call the paramount division of the police if you’d like,” he said. “They’ll verify these are true wards. I have no reason to hurt you.”
“Dar’cy,” Missy said, “not all men are bad.”
“I know that,” she replied before turning her attention back to him. “I want your telemagnet code. If you’re going to make these for us, then I want to be able to hold you accountable at any moment.”
He smiled. “I can do that. Can I finish first, though?”
She nodded.
“Thank you,” Missy said to him. She nodded as well, but to herself. “We might actually survive this.”

Secret Knowledge

The next morning, Missy and Dar’cy stopped for some coffee, then went on to the library. It was the one of the oldest buildings on the planet. Not only had it survived the original Deathfall back in 2016, but was also a relic from Springfield’s history. It had been updated a few times since it was first built, but not much, and had remained exactly the same since it came here. People didn’t really use the library anymore. Like on Earth, knowledge had become ubiquitous and completely accessible to all residents of the planet. If you needed to know something, you looked it up on your computer. And if it wasn’t somewhere on the network, then it wouldn’t be in the library either. Neither of them grew up with any experience with libraries. They were still around in their more traditional form when Missy was growing up, but they were already on their way to becoming obsolete, and she never personally found use in them.
The librarian was surprised to see them when they walked in, like she hadn’t seen another person in ages. “Hello, welcome to the original branch. How may I help you?”
Missy looked around in paranoia, to check if anyone could hear them, while Dar’cy stepped off and scanned the area more deliberately. “Yes, this might sound strange, but we were hoping to find information on how to...” It was an awkward request.”
“How to...have sex as two women?”
“No,” Missy answered with her own surprise. “I think we could probably figure that out. No, I’m...I’m a paramount, but I don’t want to be.”
“Ooh, I’m sorry,” the librarian said sadly. “There’s no cure.”
“But isn’t there? I came to this planet upon rumors there was some way to get rid of time powers. There’s some...ancient quest, or something?”
“Oh,” she said, suddenly becoming quite serious. “That.”
“So you know what I’m talking about?
“We don’t keep information on that. It’s dangerous, and there’s no real evidence that it has ever worked.”
“Still, I’d at least like to know what to do.”
“You disappear.”
“If you try this, you disappear. Everyone has. In all of history, everyone who’s figured out how to start this...quest has gone off, never to be seen again. Are you Earthan?”
“We are,” Dar’cy said, ever ready for a glorious battle.
“You came on that ship. You’re not paramounts. You’re choosing ones.”
“That’s what we call ourselves, yeah. We’ve adapted our language to make others more comfortable.”
“Oh, never do that,” the librarian said, still with that seriousness. “Never apologize for who you are, or hide away, or change for people’s benefit.” She paused in thought. “I cannot, in good conscience, supply any Durune with the tools they would need to try the quest. I also cannot exercise any control over an Earthan. I don’t know how to start the quest, but I know who will.”
“Who’s that?” Dar’cy asked.
“The Librarian,” the librarian answered.
“That’s not you?”
“I am a librarian. I’m talking about The Librarian, of the Secret Library.”
“There’s a secret library? Why is it secret?”
“It’s been here longer than we have. This is the original branch, but the new branch was swallowed up even before the Deathfall.”
Missy was confused. “We were told no one, and no thing, survived those earlier portals. Only a small section survived during that last fall.”
“For the most part, that’s true. But there were exceptions; Purple Rose Lane, the High School, and the Library.”
“And people on this world don’t know about it?”
“A few do. Fewer know how to get there. Even fewer do actually go.”
The Librarian,” Missy repeated. “That sounds like—”
“A chooser nickname?” the librarian interrupted. “It sure does, doesn’t it?”
“I’m assuming this place is located in some other spatial dimension,” Dar’cy guessed.
The lowercase librarian drew a frown on her face. “Temporal-spatial,” she corrected. “That’s one of the reasons so few people go, and it’s the first reason to not even try the quest. For every hour you spend in the Secret Library, a year passes for everyone outside of it.”
Missy and Dar’cy looked at each other, which was the best way to send telepathic messages. Missy shrugged. “Time ain’t nothin’ but a thang. We don’t belong here anyway. Year outside, hour inside won’t be a problem for us.” The world could change quite a bit in such a short time, from their perspective, but their lives were defined by change.
“All right, then,” the lowercase librarian began as she was turning around and walking away, “follow me.”
She lead them to the card catalogs, which she told them had all been emptied before the Deathfall pulled the town to this world. She opened one of the drawers, took a bobby pin from her hair, and reached deep into it, then she pulled her arm back out. “Yeah, I’m afraid I won’t be able to help you get through this. Not with my arthritis. I don’t suppose either one of you knows how to pick a lock.”
Dar’cy kind of smirked, but in a sad way, but with feigned sadness. “My father taught me, much to my mother’s disapproval. Sometimes an object I need to thread is on the other side of a locked door.” She accepted the pin from the lowercase librarian, and stuck her own arm in the drawer. “Yeah, there’s a hidden lock in here.” Within but a few seconds, she was clearly successful.
The lowercase librarian had casually stepped back away from the catalogs, leaving them to transport to the ceiling of a dark cave alone. Once Dar’cy removed her arm from the drawer, they both fell to floor, slowly and safely.
“Hello?” Missy asked the aether.
“Hello,” someone answered from a nook in the rock.
Dar’cy held her arm out to prevent Missy from getting too close, and cautiously walked towards the voice herself. “Who’s there?”
“My name is Porter. The Constructor, The Weaver, and I collaborated on this place as a refuge for the needy. It is a prototype, however...a proof of concept, as it were. Congratulations, you have been chosen as a beta tester for the program. Here you will find anything you need. If you would like something, within reason, simply request it out loud. We’re not mind readers, you know,” she added with a smirk. “If the program is successful, we will be creating more—more advanced—places like this. Go ahead and try it out. Ask for anything.”
“I would like the cure for time powers,” Missy requested.
“I’m sorry, that item is not in my inventory.”
“I would like to speak with the real Porter,” Dar’cy said.
“I’m afraid that’s not possible.”
Dar’cy stood there for a few seconds, working something out in her head. This was clearly some kind of magical recording, programmed into an avatar. Missy didn’t know anything about it, but Dar’cy seemed to. “I would like a paradox.”
“What?” the Porter’s avatar asked.
“Give me a paradox.”
That seemed to stump her, but why would it? She could easily just give them some canned response about that not being possible, or not in her inventory, which she already had. The question itself seemed to be putting her into some kind of does not compute error mode, like she was having an existential crisis. Her eyes and head were twitching as she was trying to figure this all out. Then she stopped and relaxed. “I am the real Porter.” She stepped out of her nook.
“My mother told me about you.”
“I met her only in a corrupted reality,” Porter said. “How does she remember that?”
“What do you think meditation’s for?”
“What are you doing here?” Porter asked.
“We’re on a quest.” Dar’cy gestured towards Missy. “She’s looking to get rid of her powers.”
“The Cleanser is after her.”
Porter stood up straighter. “You think he won’t kill you if you’re not a chooser anymore?”
“That’s what he said.”
“If you go back in time, to when dictionaries existed, and had pictures, and looked up the word liar, you wouldn’t see a picture of him, because that would be ridiculously specific, but he is a liar. I’m sure you misinterpreted his meaning anyway. Choosers never choose to strip themselves of powers, and the rumor that it’s possible on this world is just that, a rumor. It’s never been verified beyond anecdotal evidence. He’s not planning on letting you live, powers or no. I suggest you turn around.”
“I’m not giving up,” Missy said firmly. “We only came here because we were told it’s the way to the Secret Springfield Library.”
“It can be,” Porter said. “I can provide you with a door, if that’s what you want.”
“That’s what we want,” Dar’cy confirmed.
“Uhhhh, where the hell am I?” Saga’s  voice echoed through the small cave.
Porter smiled, and lightly ushered them towards Saga. “As you wished.” She stepped back into her nook and returned to her blank avatar state.
“Thank you,” Missy said.
The two of them went over to Saga.
“Oh, it’s you two,” Saga said with relief. “How have you been. Did you find what you were looking for?”
“Not yet,” Missy replied. “I think it’s there.” She nodded towards the door that had appeared out of nowhere.
“Right, I’m just you’re ride.”
“What year is it for you?” Dar’cy asked.
“Careful. Spoilers.”
She graciously opened the door to the Secret Library, and closed it behind them.

Short Story Long

Nothing in this new library was moving. A few dozen people were frozen in place; in the middle of walking down the aisles, opening books, or looking through catalogs. Upon careful inspection, they realized the library patrons weren’t completely frozen, but were moving incredibly slowly. Missy was feeling sick to her stomach, like a roller coaster was trying to pull her forwards, but her shirt was caught on a nail. Gradually, the people around them began to accelerate. Missy postulated that they needed time to catch up to Missy and Dar’cy’s speed, but then she realized the two of them were in their house now. It was actually they who needed to slow down to everyone else’s speed. After a few moments, they had reached their goal, and the world around them started looking a lot more normal. A few people noticed they were there right away, while others took notice as they walked by. Some smiled, others waved, but most people just moderately acknowledged their presence.
Before they could find the information desk, or The Librarian, they heard a crackle from speakers on the ceiling. Somebody cleared their throat. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have two new arrivals. Please join us for storytime in Collaboration Room C.
“Oh my God, not again. I’m busy,” said someone in the middle of what looked like important research.
“You have to go,” someone near him said.
“It’s not mandatory.”
“It could help with your research.”
He sighed. “Very well.” He did give Missy and Dar’cy a glare, though.
“What’s going on?” Missy asked as everyone began heading in the same general direction, to the other side of the library.
“I think the story is meant to be coming from us,” Dar’cy guessed.
“That might be difficult.”
A woman was walking in the opposite direction as everyone else. She approached the newcomers. “Come on, you’re the guests of honor.”
“Uh...we’re not from Durus,” Dar’cy tried to explain.
“We’re Earthans,” Missy added.
“Great!” the woman said to them. “Then you’ll be able to give us news of Earth. No one ever comes from there! Oo, this is gonna be a real treat. Follow me!”
“We’re just looking for information,” Missy stopped her. “We’re not really here to tell any stories.”
The woman stopped and turned around ominously. “Everyone who comes here contributes. We’re stuck in a different time dimension, so there’s no way to communicate with the outside universe. If you want information on how to get rid of your chooser powers, you will give us what we need. And you’ll do it first.”
That was intense. How did she know why they were there?
“As I said, follow me,” she repeated.
It was an exhausting ordeal. Some of the people in the audience were fascinated with them, and wanted to learn every little detail of their lives. Others couldn’t care less, or at least wanted to play it cool. Missy and Dar’cy updated them as best they could of the goingson of Durus, but the last storyteller was from fourteen years ago. Though Saga and their new friends filled them in on a little bit of what happened before The Warren arrived, there was still a lot they couldn’t explain. As that woman had said, they were fairly interested in Earth. Most people in the library had never been there before, and a couple of them even thought it to be a myth told to children to encourage imagination and hope. By the time they were done telling their stories, and fielding everyone’s questions, over an hour had passed. It was now probably roundabouts September of 2174.
The woman who had forced them to do this, who they now realized must have been The Librarian smiled and allowed everyone to go back to what they were doing before storytime. Once everyone had left, she faced Missy and Dar’cy with a sad face, but no frown. “Thank you for that. It’s been awhile, but you’ve given many people something to look forward to. They left that world when it was in shambles. I’ve already heard whispers about going back, now that they might be able to actually build a life there. Unfortunately, I lied to you earlier. I will not be able to help you remove your powers. I’ve done that before, and it has not turned out well. I’m afraid I cannot bring myself to do it again.”
“You don’t need to help personally,” Missy said. “Just point us in the right direction. Tell us where we can find a book, or maybe someone here right now who knows something.”
She shook her head. “No, I can’t do anything. If you’re not here to do other research, I recommend returning to realtime before too much of it passes. Please request whomever told you to come here to no longer send people my way who need what you’re asking for. I will not be able to help them either.”
“Do you like it here?” Dar’cy asked before the Librarian could turn away.
“Pardon?” she asked.
“This dimension,” Dar’cy clarified. “Do you like that time moves slowly here? Did you do that on purpose, or are you just living with it?”
She was taken aback, apparently never having been asked such a question. “Well, Durus is a very strange place. People have powers, like you, but the planet itself alters physical laws, almost like it’s a person too. So no, we don’t really want it to be like this, but it’s what we have. We would rather be protected and missing out, than in a regular dimension, and exposed.”
Missy jumped in, “but this is a repository of knowledge. Knowledge should be shared. Why are you hoarding it?”
“I suppose you’re right,” the librarian conceded, “but like I said, this is life.”
“How did you know we had powers?” Dar’cy questioned.
“Some things I know, some things I don’t,” the Librarian gave a nonanswer.
“Do you know what our powers are?”
“No, but it doesn’t matter. I have made a vow to myself to never help someone be rid of their powers again. And I thank you to stop trying to change my mind.”
“We can get you out of this dimension,” Dar’cy claimed.
“Darce,” Missy warned, worried about where this might lead.
“You could do that?” the Librarian asked, with a glimmer of optimism for the prospect.
“Well, she could,” Dar’cy admitted.
“We don’t know that,” Missy said. She could create localized temporal bubbles that operated under different speeds of time, but she had never tried changing the speed of a dimension she had nothing to do with in the first place.
“You could at least try,” Dar’cy said to Missy, then directed her attention back to the Librarian. “If she does, you will promise—with no lying this time—that you’ll give us whatever we need to complete this mission.”
The Librarian thought over this proposal for about six real days. “I don’t know if that would be wise. This temporal dimension is a headache, but it’s the only protection we have.”
“You heard the stories,” Dar’cy argued. “The world has changed. You don’t need protection anymore. There’s a real government, and when you go back, you’ll be given certain rights. What Missy said is true, you shouldn’t keep knowledge from others. You’ve been here for what, a few months?”
“A week.”
“Jesus Christ,” Dar’cy couldn’t help but say. “Well, it’s been two centuries for everyone else. It’s time to go home.”
“All right,” the Librarian said. “If you can put us back on realtime, I’ll give you anything you ask for. But if this is some kind of trick, and it’s not really as great out there as you said, you get nothing.”
“We can live with that,” Dar’cy agreed.
Missy pulled her friend over to the side. “By the time I get this done, it’ll be two years since we left. You’ve seen how quickly things shift. We don’t know what 2175 looks like.”
Dar’cy put her hands on Missy’s shoulders. “Nothing will ever get better if we don’t think it can.”
Missy had no response to this. She turned to the Librarian. “Take me to the center of the library.”
The Librarian led them out of the room, to a grouping of study tables. She stood over one of the tables, and looked up to the skylight, which was showing nothing but darkness. “This is it, right here. Unless it has to be the exact center, in which case I’ll need to find the blueprints.”
Missy spun around for perspective. “No, this should be close enough.” She climbed onto the table, and sat cross-legged on it. She interlaced six of her fingers, but kept the other two pointed outwards, in the vague shape of a handgun. She closed her eyes and began a breathing exercise that Dar’cy had taught her, imagining that her teacher was smiling at the sight. Once she felt like she too was centered, she outstretched her arms to search for the energies permeating this dimension, and the building within it. She concentrated on harmonizing her body’s vibrations with those of her environment, and its occupants.
She maintained this position, gathering all the vibes from the dimension, bundling all of them together with her mind, then seeking out the world beyond. What she needed to do was destroy everything holding this place together, and force it to revert back to the rules that governed the universe as a whole. As she predicted, even though this was the first time she had tried this, it was nearly an hour before she was successful. All barriers were removed. She could feel herself, and everyone around her, speeding back up. Before this connection was broken, she could also feel everybody in the building throw up. It was a jarring experience.
Once she opened her eyes, she found the Librarian on her hands and knees, trying to catch her breath. Others were doing the same, hovered over piles and puddles of their bile. Only Dar’cy remained standing, perfectly fine, likely because her mother taught her how to adapt to new situations at the drop of a hat. Or because she was an object threader, and often instantly found herself in new places.
The Librarian stood back up and started coughing. “I hope your new government employs some good janitors.”
Grossed out, Missy timidly peeked over to see the floor better. “I think you’ll just want a good carpet installer.”
“Welcome to 2175,” Dar’cy said. “I think, at least. I’m not the best at math, I grew up on an island.”
“Now we know how Leona and Serif feel.”
A group of people suddenly barged into the library from the outside, holding their badges up, like they were raiding a strip club known for laundering money. “This is the Intercity Police Department, Temporal Anomaly Division!” the leader called out.
“TAD?” Dar’cy giggled.
“We are here because of an unscheduled dimensional reestablishment!” the cop continued. “You have interfered with the stability of realspace, and caused severe structural damage! We are still investigating casualties! Please congregate in one place, so we can take your statements! Resistance is not recommended!”
“Shit,” Dar’cy said.
They both looked at the Librarian, who looked back with a poker face. “I can’t give you what you want until this is resolved, if it ever is. If you killed someone,” she said to Missy, “even just one person, the deal’s off.”
“Shit,” Missy echoed.

Part IV

Coming soon...

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