PREVIOUSLY: Stuck in the wrong future, Frank and Tim meet Mindylenopia – because Future Mindy in their past will have suggested it.
PART 90a: FIGHT THE FUTURE
She came around the side of the building moments after Frank and Tim sat down on the bench. Frank hoped his initial shock didn’t show on his face. After all, Mindylenopia looked so much younger, having reverted back to being the teenage-looking version who had driven the van into their school. With shorter hair and everything. And despite the chill March air, she had her jacket open, revealing a tight red blouse, which matched her knee length skirt. Hoping to distract them, maybe?
Frank started to rise, only to have her gesture for him to sit. The redheaded Temporal then sat down next to him, peering out at the landscape. “So, are you simply Mundanes trying to speak our language?” Mindylenopia asked, without turning. “Or are you under someone else’s control, trying to determine my true allegiances?”
“The former,” Frank answered, before he could stop himself. Perhaps she’d exerted her power. “We…”
“If you’re able to run interference for me tomorrow night, keep talking, if not, I have no use for you.”
“We want to make sure you succeed in your…”
“Great, then can you find a redhead who could double for me, and who also speaks your rudimentary Temporal?”
It occurred to him that Laurie kind of fit that description. “Maybe, but Mindylenopia, can I finish a…”
“No. Concerning the redhead, switch to a definite yes or no, otherwise I’m out.”
Frank let out an exasperated sigh, as he realized Mindy’s future incarnation was at least ten times less patient than Theresa had ever been, even on a bad day. “Yes, PROVIDED,” he added quickly, “that I come with you.”
Mindylenopia frowned and finally turned to look at him. “%You want to go on a suicide mission?%”
Tim flinched. “S-She says you could get killed.”
“Will,” Mindylenopia corrected. “Will get killed. Because I’m the only one travelling back, and as such, anyone else still in the compound after I leave? Has no chance.”
“Why, are you planning to blow it up?” Frank said, eyes widening.
The redhead rolled her eyes. “Oh, don’t be stupid. I’m not a killer. But I can only delay Carrie for so long, and scrubbing the video footage isn’t on my agenda.”
“Ah. Well, here’s the thing,” Frank continued. “Mindy, er, Lenopia, we got your number from… from someone who knew we’d be fighting against that Elder Carrie. Can you think of why she would want us to talk to you first, before you left?”
“So I could tell you that you’re morons? You can’t get close to her. Don’t worry, I’ll keep past Carrie away from whoever drags her out of town. We’re pretty sure it was Glinephanis.”
“Okay but, hypothetically speaking,” Frank pressed, “if even after your mission, there was still the need for someone to attack Elder Carrie, why would someone like you send us here to talk to, ah, you?”
Her eyes narrowed. “Who did you say you were?”
Frank swallowed. “Call me Bernard.”
“Mmmmm. People who want my missions to fail say ‘Quack!’.”
Frank blinked, glancing sidelong at Tim, who shrugged.
Mindy rubbed her chin. “Pity, it’s funny when conspirators do that. Okay, fine. So I’ve been constructing a prototype weapon, something I loosely refer to as a %temporal gun%. It’s my ace in the hole, but it’s non-lethal, and has never been tested.”
Tim poked Frank. “Bernard – we may need that.”
“If I accompany you, can I get your %musical gun%?” Frank asked.
Tim winced. “Uh, she used a longer ’t’ sound…”
“Are you going to get me a redheaded double who speaks Temporal before you commit suicide?” Mindylenopia reiterated.
“I can do that,” Frank said. “And I’m not planning to commit…”
“Then yes, I’ll let you come along, and once I’m gone, you can have the gun. I figure bringing back future tech is only asking for trouble, particularly when it might not even work. But you are on your OWN once I leave, yeah?”
“I can live with that,” Frank concluded.
“Oh, I very much doubt it,” Mindylenopia snorted. “But it’s not MY funeral.” She rose. “I’ll be in touch through regular channels about where to put my double, and where you’ll meet me. You won’t be able to use that old phone number again. Don’t follow me, or the deal’s off.” She then marched off the way she had come, muttering, “%I must be out of my mind%.”
Frank remained seated until she was out of earshot before looking at Tim. “So that object she spoke of was…”
“The temporal gun,” Tim affirmed. “The one we don’t have.”
“Right.” Frank adjusted his glasses. “Remind me again of why I gave our most powerful temporal weapon to Chartreuse.”
Tim shook his head. “She didn’t tell me why.”
“Okay, well… maybe you’d better run through the whole conversation Chartreuse had with you? Since part of it could be relevant now, and once we’re back with Luci, we can’t talk about it. Not with that gun not existing in her past, the past of Timeline Three.”
Tim sighed. “I’ll try to remember.”
Chartreuse had turned up at his house the morning of December 30th, an hour after breakfast. Asking to speak to him in private. Having sensed it would be about the time travel group, he’d taken her up to his room.
The mystic girl hadn’t disappointed, or indeed wasted any time, sitting with him on the bed and reaching out to grasp him by the hands. “Okay, so, like, here’s the thing. We need your help. Are you able to help out the group?”
Tim swallowed. “I… y-yeah. If I can actually b-be helpful. Instead of b-being the guy that causes Glen to mind manipulate people, or the one M-Mindy uses to learn everything about everyone, or the f-friend who has no technical skills to help Clarke with whatever he’s…”
“Aw, Tim. Don’t get like that.” She squeezed his hands. “You’re the linguist! Like that person in the ‘Arrival’ movie, you’re handling the thing most of us are hopeless at doing. Which is why we need you now. See, Luci’s not gonna be able to go back with Frank. I saw that. But he’ll still, you know, need someone who can speak Temporal with him while in the future.”
“You m-mean the past,” Tim corrected.
She smiled. “Right, the past, totally tensed up there.”
He shook it off. “S-So wait, you think that I can…”
“I KNOW that you can. Because here’s the other thing, Tim. Laurie, my dear, sweet Laurie, when she leaves, having been recruited to be the Miami signpost? She’s gonna be on her first time trip. With the guy who’s been time tripping since the start, plus two Temporals, and that’s GOTTA be intimidating. Even I’m intimidated, and I’m staying here! Whereas you, you’ll be, you know, in the same boat as her, kinda.”
Tim sighed. “Meaning clueless.”
“No, meaning inexperienced!” Chartreuse protested. “But Tim, you’d be gaining experience, while translating Temporal, and making sure Laurie doesn’t have a panic attack when things, you know, inevitably go south! I swear, the both of you, you’re stronger than you think, yeah? And hey, I’ll need someone to remind Laurie, in case if she ever wishes Corry was there instead, that she’s, like, more connected to Carrie than her brother could ever hope to be! Okay?”
Tim dropped his gaze to the bedspread. “You r-really think I’m the p-person who can do this?”
She released his hands, reaching up to tilt at his chin, making him look back at her. “Totally do. Don’t you think so?”
There was no sarcasm in her voice, and nothing but sincerity in her expression. It was now or never, wasn’t it. The same way it had been with Julie and the chip – was he in, or was he out? Tim straightened his posture. “Okay. When do we leave?”
Chartreuse beamed, and for a moment it looked like she would hug him. But instead, she pushed herself off the bed, glancing at her watch. “At the library, in about half an hour. Bring four days worth of your meds, just in case.”
A shiver ran up Tim’s back. “That’s soon. Exactly what did your future vision show you?”
“I can’t really explain what I experienced, it became… kinda vision plus,” Chartreuse admitted. “Oh! And that reminds me. In case I don’t get to tell him while he’s rescuing Beth, when you go back to pick up Laurie, and get supplies? You need to tell Frank to give the temporal gun to me. Like, past me. Instead of taking it along on your trip.”
Tim flinched. “What?”
“I mean, he’s gonna do it, because I have the gun, and I think that’s how, like, time travel works. But trust me, we’ll need it here, the timing is real important. Frank can hand it off to me between our big meeting, and when the bunch of us gather to tell Mr. Waterson the truth about Carrie. Got that?”
“Wait, h-how does this fit into everything else?”
Chartreuse chewed on her lip. “It’s complicated. Even I don’t know everything, not yet.” She pulled a meditation crystal out of a pocket on her dress, staring at it as she rolled it around between her fingers. “Not yet. But soon.”
She continued to stare for a moment, finally slipping the crystal back into her pocket and meeting his gaze. “That’s all, like, my problem though. Not yours. Are you, you know, okay to get to the library and such?”
Tim nodded. “Y-Yeah. I can do this. I can.” For that matter, if they didn’t need the gun, what was the worst thing that could happen while in the past?
“Complicated,” Frank repeated back. “And at the time, I thought it was related to the people who would be chasing down Beth when we left. I never imagined… this scenario.”
“M-Maybe there’s a thing where we’ll need that temporal gun in the present, and another here in the future?” Tim suggested.
“Except Mindylenopia wouldn’t know whatever Chartreuse knew, would she?” Frank protested. “Only that we didn’t have the gun. Hence the phone number left for us, it must mean she’d hoped we’d use her first gun for an assault on Elder Carrie, right?”
“D-Dunno.” Tim shook his head. “It’s f-funny, I always f-figured I didn’t get what you guys meant because I was out of the l-loop. But there really is no l-loop, huh? None of us knows what’s going on.”
“Nope,” Frank affirmed. He rubbed his arms, becoming aware of the chill. “For now, let’s get back to Luci, and find somewhere warm. And get some sleep. I’ll see if I can convince Laurie to act as Mindylenopia’s double tomorrow.”
“I won’t do it,” Laurie asserted. “Not unless you tell Mindylenopia what’s going to happen to her.”
“But if she knows, that might change everything!” Frank protested.
They had all slept the night at Luci’s place. Frank and Tim had given Laurie the bed-in-a-wall, grabbing some blankets to sleep on the floor. Frank had elected not to bring up the content of his conversation with Mindylenopia until breakfast, after everyone had been able to shower and get a change of clothing… more or less. Laurie had used her suitcase, and her T-Shirt and track pants worked for Tim, while Frank had managed with some male items that Luci had found in the back of her closet. He decided not to ask why they’d been there.
“Might change everything for the better,” Laurie countered.
“Or might mean we don’t end up here at all!” Frank said. “I mean Laurie, think about it. What if… what if something we say to Mindylenopia now means she doesn’t talk to Carrie back then, meaning I die in the past after all?”
“No, no, everyone says time travel is predestined,” Laurie insisted.
“But not in this case! Right Luci?” Frank turned to where she was sipping on a mug of coffee.
“Oh, we are SO off the map with this one, I can’t even,” Luci declared. “I’ve already told our people to lock down your time car and not let anyone near it until this situation has been worked out.”
“D-Do you think Laurie should do it then?” Tim asked her. “Be Mindylenopia’s double?”
“I think you’re in over your heads,” Luci remarked. “Worse, you’re dragging the rest of us under the water with you. Related, please stop talking about Mindylenopia’s possible future in front of me. It freaks me out more than a little bit.”
Frank sighed. “Fine. If Laurie’s unwilling, is there someone else in the resistance who resembles Mindylenopia who would be willing?”
Luci’s grip on her mug tightened. “Over. Your. Heads.”
Frank leaned on the table. “So help us. Please.”
“I can’t. Not the way you want me to.”
“Then at least help us understand why you can’t!” Frank pleaded.
Luci brought her mug down hard on the table, sloshing coffee everywhere. “Because! This isn’t Timeline Three, okay?! It’s more like Timeline Forty-Seven!”
NEXT: Insight the Future (aka InfoDump)
ASIDE: This past weekend I got 5 coins from 2017. (Two quarters, three nickels.) Let the time travel commence!