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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Furor: Five People in Different Places Right Now (Part X)

And so Ace found himself trapped in the past, facing an enemy, turned friend, turned it’s complicated. Now, it was even more complicated. Ladonna had explained that the home stone would turn Jesi young again, but this was too young. He remembered her having said she was about to become a senior in high school when she and her classmates were stuck in another dimension, but this was no high schooler. She looked about eight.
“I’m ten,” Young!Jesi corrected earnestly. “What did you do?”
“I made you use the home stone.”
“I see that, now we’re in 1992, in the side yard of my old house. Fortunately, we’re not stuck here, because I can travel through time, idiot.”
“I thought this was meant to be 2000.”
“The first time I experienced nonlinear time wasn’t the year 2000. It was now. The dimension my classmates and I got trapped in swallowed us up because it wanted us back. We had all been there before, when we were children.”
“So, where are the others?”
“Different times when we were children,” she clarified. “We didn’t know it had happened to all of us until it happened again.”
“I see.”
“Since I’m a nice person,” she began with a lie, “I will take you back to 2026 with me, so we can end this together. But if you fight me on it, I’ll just leave you here.”
“Don’t,” I beg of her. “Don’t go back. Stay here, like this.”
“Why would I do that, Ace? That’s insane.”
“You’re young again. This is your second chance.”
“You’re not getting it. I’m a time traveler; and a very special one, at that. I can be any age I want. I’ll show you.”
“No, don’t,” I say again. “You may be able to manipulate your age, but I bet you never thought to come back to being ten.”
“Yeah, because it’s stupid. People underestimate children, and I’m not about that. I want people to know how strong I am.”
“I know it, and you do. That should be enough, for now. Stay in this time period, if only for a little while. Relive your life, and do it right. Build your reputation as an alternate version of yourself; someone who’s different than before.”
“You really want this for me, huh?”
“I really do,” Ace said with a nod. “I think you deserve this more than anyone.”
She breathed deeply through her nose, and thought about it. “Ya know, Ladonna was gonna die anyway.”
“How’s that?”
Young!Jesi took the dog tag from around her neck, and tossed it over to Ace. “You can’t just...throw these in a fire, no matter how powerful that fire is. It could be the next day, or a million years later, but word will spread of what you did. Someone will find out exactly when and where you destroyed the hundemarke, and they’ll go back in time and change history.”
“So, what can one do to prevent this? I want the hundemarke destroyed as well.”
She smirked. “You have to wear it, Horace. You have to sacrifice your own life, and use the power of the hundemarke against itself. You have to create a fixed moment in time. The hundemarke will die, you will die, and no one will be able to change it.”
Ace looked down at the hundemarke in his hand and frowned. “Oh.”
“I’ll do as you ask, until I get tired of it. But that means I can’t take you home. I won’t leave here, even for a side trip. That’s the deal. If you want to go back to 2026, or if you want to destroy that temporal object, you’re going to have to find a way on your own.”
He tightened his grip around the tag, and stuffed it in his pocket. Then he took the rock back from Jesi. “I have a way home. It won’t take me back to 2026, but it will get me closer.”
Jesi nodded understandingly. “I’m not extremely pleased with what you did to me, but I get where you’re coming from, and I appreciate the concern. I want you to know I’m gonna try.”
“Good, because I know that you can. I’ve seen you change already. This could be good for you.”
“Go before I change my mind.”
After one last smile, he squeezed the home stone, and returned to 2022.

The first time Ace traveled through time was September 25, 2022. He had just met Serkan the day before, who had already met him in 2026. To get answers about their mysterious time inconsistencies, they went to see Lincoln Rutherford, Esquire. Lincoln had recently started at a brand new law firm, and had always indicated that he had some knowledge of the world of salmon and choosers. This was where Ace was now, standing in Lincoln’s office, watching his past self fade away through a magical portal, to what he now knew was Stonehenge 1971. He caught a glimpse of Serkan too, as well as little Paige, and her evil parents.
Suddenly, some other version of Serkan barged into the office. “Oh shit, am I early?”
“Nope,” Lincoln said to him. He offered a seat to both of them. “You are right on time.”
“Why is he here?” Serkan asked. “I mean...” he wrapped his arms around Ace’s shoulders. “How did you get here? It’s 2022. What year are you from?”
“2026,” Ace answered. “Day of the Frenzy.”
“Me too!” Serkan said. “Well, not really. I mean that that’s the last time I saw you. I’ve been living here since March 16, 2019.”
“Why, what happened?”
“The teleporter gun,” Serkan began to explain. “Apparently, the bullets can also send you through time. Way I understand it, teleportation and time travel aren’t as different as they may seem; kind of like how electricity and magnetism are actually electromagnetism. Paiges engineer friend didnt quite get it right.”
“Oh. I thought you went to the prison. I came here with the home stone, and I was hoping Lincoln could get me back to you.”
Lincoln extended his arms in faux humility. “And ye, so it shall be, for I have done it, and you are reunited.”
“You knew the whole time this would happen,” Serkan posited. “You knew the portal would take us back to 1971, then send us to 2023 with Paige. You know about the 2024 weather problems, and the copy of Kansas City, and the 2025 pathogen, and of Rothko’s impending attack on the 2026 City Frenzy.”
Lincoln sat back in his chair, and regarded Serkan like a student who’s finally figured out that The Lion King is just Hamlet with animals. “I told you, I know everything. But I don’t know you. You’re a black hole of unknown unknowns. I see most of what happens in the future, but I don’t know how you’re involved.”
“Can you get us back there?” Ace asked him.
“Personally? No. I know someone who can, though.”
“I’m not really in the mood to meet anyone new. It feels like every time we do, somebody gets hurt.”
Lincoln stood up, and unlocked a cabinet behind him. He took out a Polaroid camera, and a mailbox. He set them both on the desk. “You’ve gotten lucky so far, but you have to remember to Bill and Ted your pictures. If Paige never comes across the picture, she can’t jump through it to rescue you, so always remember to get it to the right place in the future.” He lifted the camera back up, and snapped a photo of Ace and Serkan.
Ace turned his head to find his daughter standing behind him.
“I’ll get this to The Courier this time for you, but that’ll be your responsibility anytime you need a Future!Paige.” Lincoln shook it like a Polaroid picture, and tossed it into the mailbox. Then he lifted the little red flag to signal it was ready to be picked up. “Now, please return to your own time period,” he said dismissively. “I’ve just started at this new firm, and I have real work today. This discovery won’t discover itself.”
Paige sort of arched her back to make sure all three of them could see her phone, like she was about to take a selfie. They were looking at a photo of the fugitive seeker, Tracker, who was flipping off the camera. “Say Beaver Haven, class of 2027!”

They were sitting in a waiting room with Tracker. Ace put up his dukes, and jumped up to protect his family.
“Whoa, we’re cool, we’re cool.”
“He’s right,” Paige said, gently pulling Ace’s arm down. “He’s helping us get Slipstream back.”
“What happened to Slipstream?” Ace and Serkan asked simultaneously.
“She’s a prisoner here,” Tracker answered. “I brought her in, thinking we could use her to find you. The Warden decided to lock her up, claiming she was close enough. I’ve worked for them since the prison was founded, and we’ve never had a human inmate before. I don’t like it, so I’m getting her out for you. But you have to do everything I say, including wait here.”
Ace looked to Paige for guidance. Her face imparted the fact that they could trust him with this. “Very well.” He delicately sat back down. “We shall wait.”
Tracker nodded once, like a dutiful butler, then left the room.
“Has it been a year for you?” Serkan asked Paige. “Is this 2027?”
“Almost a year, yes. I’m seventeen.”
“You’re seventeen,” Ace repeated. “That’s only five years younger than me.”
“Me too,” Serkan said.
“You’re twenty-two too?” Ace asked him.
“Hm. We’re finally the same age.”
“Well, technically, if you used the home stone, you were reyoungified to the age you would have been had you never traveled through time. So Serkan is actually older than you now.”
“And I’m only three years older than you.”
“That’s not quite how it works.” It was the Warden, having walked into the room. “You’ve experienced twenty-two years of life; you’re twenty-two.”
“How should I be reacting to running back into you?” Ace asked of her. “Should I be afraid, or angry, or—”
“Grateful,” the Warden answered. “You’ve returned Rothko Ladhiffe, somehow rehabilitated Jesimula Utkin, and undone all the reality changes that were made during the City Frenzy.”
Serkan and Ace looked over to Paige. “I used the paradox ticker,” she said, like it was NBD.
“So, you’ll be releasing Slipstream?” Serkan asked. “Everything you listed sounds like things that mean you should be grateful to us.”
“Oh, I’m quite grateful. Unfortunately, your husband’s actions cannot go unpunished. I will release Miss Horvatinčić, but Mister Reaver will have to take her place. He’s the one we wanted anyway.”
“You used her as bait,” Paige argued.
The Warden did not look upset about the accusation. “That’s exactly what I did. I’ll do whatever it takes to get my target. But that does not mean I am without mercy. Ace can be released as well.”
“If what?” Serkan asked, knowing it wouldn’t be so easy.
The Warden leaned back out the doorway, and waved her hand. “Come on in.”
Slipstream walked in, along with some other woman.
“Slip!” Ace hopped over, and gave her a big hug.
She was hardened; not unfeeling, but jaded. She struggled with her chains to hug him back. “Five people in different places right now,” she said hypnotically.
“Get her the hell out of those things!” Serkan shouted.
The Warden took a key from her pocket, and handed it to the other woman. “You can do it.”
The other woman took the keys, and started working on Slipstream’s locks.
The Warden continued, “you’ll get Ace back if you do a job.”
“Why would we do that?” Serkan questioned. “This is what happened the last time we did a job for you.” He gestured to Slipstream and Ace.
“I understand and appreciate your reluctance, but this is not for the prison. It’s for the good of all mankind.”
“What are you talking about?” Paige asked in disbelief.
The Warden presented the woman who was helping Slipstream. “This is Alexina McGregor. She’s one of the Springfield Nine. It seems one of her creations has been taken into custody by the human authorities.”
Alexina looked at Serkan. “I believe you call it...the rabbit dog?”
“You’ll be working with her,” the Warden went on, “but your objective is different. We need you to retrieve something you lost in the first place.”
“What would that be?” Ace asked.
“It was in the lockbox you used to take Rothko down. An FBI agent is one of us, but doesn’t quite realize it. He remembers what Rothko did at the Frenzy, while no one else does, so he confiscated the item, and took it back to the Kansas City field office.”
“What is it?”
“It’s called the Omega Gyroscope, and it may very well be the most dangerous temporal object in histories.”

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