PREVIOUSLY: Much Elder Carrie (Liz) sabotaged her own Timeline Three, leading to Elder Carrie abducting her teenaged self from the past.
PART 94a: REALIGNMENT
Carrie’s fingers curled around the crystal object, aware that more tears were coming. Because here she was, at the mercy of her Future Self, being time shifted into Her Future… a future where Carrie would never see her parents, her friends, or that one ray of sunshine – her once possible girlfriend – ever again.
Oh no, now she was imagining Chartreuse’s voice in her head.
“Carrie, are you there?! We don’t, like, have much time, but PLEASE hear me, there’s something you’ve gotta do!”
Okay, this was becoming surprisingly vivid for a delusion.
“Chartreuse?” Carrie whimpered.
“Carrie!” the voice came again. “Yesssss! Ohhh, I really hope you’re, you know, the right one. Look, we’re not giving up on you. The others, they’re gonna follow you, they’re following you even now – but you’ve gotta, like, hide them from the other you. Okay?”
Carrie blinked. What the hell did that mean?
“I mean you’ve gotta, like, spot their time car, and nudge it. Nudge it ahead, into, you know, the other timeline. Temporarily. Hurry!”
Oh sure, right, piece of cake, just do the thing she had no idea how to do, while her Elder Self was busy keeping her powers in check.
“If anyone can do it, you can! Please Carrie, PLEASE, otherwise… otherwise, you know, I think you’ll be lost to us forever.”
The meditation crystal dug into her palm so hard it hurt. No. She wasn’t going to lose Chartreuse forever. Hell, nothing in life had been easy to this point, right? Why assume that knowing the truth about her mama would have made things any easier?
So, as she was towed along in the wake of her Future Self, Carrie cautiously extended her senses, looking for the ‘time car’ that kept getting referenced. At the same time, she became aware of a wake, like what existed behind a boat, that was rippling out around them… could she somehow nudge a time traveller out of it’s path, and ahead of them? Even preserve it in some sort of time bubble?
She spotted the vehicle right before her Future Self emerged into The Future, wincing as her ‘nudge’ ended up being more like a powerful ‘bump’, and what little temporal energy she had left completely ebbed away at the act.
Frank stared. Both Carries had disappeared. At this point, neither the old-old Carrie who had been reaching for the activation panel, nor the old Carrie who had been arguing with her, were present. Instead, Frank saw that Walter had somehow set his chair back up, and was reaching in for the activation panel himself.
Frank looked around the room, feeling like he’d missed something. He leaned back in towards the observation windows, catching sight of Mindylenopia down in the displacement room – she was standing and waving. Not on the floor, defeated. Then there was a bright flash of light, forcing him to look away, and when he turned back, the displacement room was empty.
Walter jerked his hand back from the panel. “What did I just do?”
Frank reached out to tap at the desk. It felt solid now.
Walter spun to face him. “Where did you just come from?”
“Oh, I’m Chronologic Patrol.” Frank fumbled in Mindy’s handbag for the temporal gun, pulling it out and pointing it Walter’s way. “Just stay calm, I don’t want any trouble.”
Then there was another flash, and three more individuals appeared in the room. The Older Carrie was back! Along with Glen, and a blonde teenager in a blue business suit… but that had to be his Carrie. Could it be that, somehow, he was here at the end of their journey from the airport? Frank quickly reached down, flicking the switch on the gun over to “Carrie” mode, and he fired at the Elder Version.
At the pulse of high energy, the old Carrie collapsed down onto the ground, even as the recoil sent Frank flying back into the wall, hard enough to leave a crack. He groaned, feeling dazed. His version of Carrie didn’t look that much better off, having slumped to the floor after their arrival.
“I’m OUT,” Walter shrieked, running for the door. “You don’t pay me enough for this!”
As such, the only person in the room retaining full command of their faculties ended up being Glinephanis, aka Glen Oaks. And after taking in the situation, and snarling, “You Mundane morons,” his next move was to drag the unconscious Elder Carrie towards the door, following after Walter.
“Glen, wait,” Frank protested. He took a couple of shaky steps, then decided it might be better to check on the status of his own Carrie instead.
She looked up at him as he touched her shoulder. “I’m still here,” she murmured, dazed. “So did that time bump on your car work? Did it hide you from my older self? Have we won?”
Frank crouched down. “We haven’t won yet.” He glanced at the door through which Glen and Elder Carrie had exited. “But we may have bought ourselves some time.”
“Peachy.” She shook her head. “Okay, the freeze effect is wearing off. I feel like I’ll be able to do time stuff again soon. For my next trick, I shall attempt to not become the Carrie who kidnaps mama, and her unborn child.”
“Er, great. How will you do that?”
“No idea. Help me up.” She blinked at him. “Actually, correction. Take off your stupid wig while I remove this jacket, and then help me up.”
Frank straightened, tugging off the disguise he’d been wearing. Meanwhile, Carrie tossed aside her flight hat, allowing her long blonde hair to flow down her back again, and she shrugged off the jacket part of the business suit.
He reached a hand down. Carrie clasped it, and he pulled her onto her feet. “Do we have a plan?” he asked.
“Good question.” Carrie looked around. “Where are we?”
“A stationary temporal generator on the day of your fiftieth birthday. Mindylenopia was just sent back in time, into our past.”
“Oh. Okay, sure.” Carrie moved to look through the observation windows. “Why are we here? Didn’t you arrive in a time car?”
“We did,” Frank admitted. “The circuits were fried. Luci impounded it yesterday, sort of. I’m not sure where it is now.”
Carrie shook her head. “Wait, what? You didn’t mention Luci had come to Miami with you.”
“Er, no, not Luci from our Present. This time’s Luci, a Future Luci.”
“Ah. That’s going to get confusing, isn’t it,” Carrie sighed.
“Well, not necessarily. I died in the past, so if anyone says Frank, it’s probably me,” he said, trying to make a joke of it. He frowned. “Then again, I used the name Bernard with Mindylenopia…”
Carrie shook her head. “You’re not dead, Frank, don’t say that. It’s Timeline THREE where you died, and that’s gotta be where I ended up hip-checking your car, to keep you safe. When I left you in the airport, a few minutes ago, you were raving about us being in ‘Timeline Four’. So that should still be where we’re at now – er, unless you’re saying you later died in ‘Timeline Four’ too?”
“I… I don’t know. Wait, you did what to our vehicle?”
“You were constantly a few seconds ahead of the temporal wave created by Mindy’s arrival in the past, until right before my arrival here. It was Chartreuse’s idea.”
“Okay then. Er, which Chartreuse?”
Carrie smacked her palm against her face and dragged it down until it slid off her chin. “I don’t know, one of ’em. Look, for my own sanity, as of RIGHT now, everyone who’s temporally displaced? Meaning not part of this future? Meaning us? Middle names. Understood?”
Bernard nodded. “Sure. Except I… I don’t actually know the middle names for Tim or Laurie.”
Elizabeth exhaled. “I will make them up if I have to. Where are they, anyway?”
“They’re still out with the resistance forces. Actually, I need to get them a message,” Bernard realized. “With Future Mindylenopia back in our past, and Carrie temporarily down, Luci and the rest of them need to know that it’s time to storm in and take this building.”
“Thrilling. Meanwhile, I kind of want all of us middle namers together, so let’s see if I can’t kill two birds with one jump. Give me a moment, knowing how to centre on people is fresh in my head.” Elizabeth closed her eyes. Moments later, she disappeared.
Tim jerked his hands into the air. “Whoa, whoa, J-Julie, it’s me.” He turned to Lee, only to see that the operations co-ordinator had also drawn a weapon. Though unlike Julie, he wasn’t pointing it at Tim. Yet.
“How did the kid get in here?” Lee demanded.
Julie shook her head. “I don’t know. I turned around, and there he was.”
Lee turned his head. “Theresa, did you see where he came from?”
“Theresa?” Tim blurted. “Wh-What happened to Megan??”
“Hold on,” the red haired woman said, over the video link. “It IS possible that things get a little weird now…”
Which was when seventeen year old Elizabeth popped into the room. “Hi!” she chirped at Lee. “Resistance, yes? Start the attack. I need to borrow… Tim, what’s your middle name?”
“To borrow Anthony. Correction, I’m taking him, because he’s from the past, and as such, probably not coming back here. Thank you, have a nice day.”
Anthony shook his head. “Carrie, what–”
“Elizabeth,” she corrected, before grasping his shoulder and time jumping.
Laurie did a double take. One moment, Luci had been walking ahead of her, leading her to the car – and in the next moment, the asian woman was gone. Except, turning around, Laurie discovered that Luci was now approaching her from behind. “Luci?” she asked.
“Okay, where did you come from?” Luci demanded.
Laurie blinked, and pointed over Luci’s shoulder. “Back there?”
“No, I mean one moment I was alone out here, and now I’m not,” Luci insisted. “How did you do that? And how do you know me?”
“What?” Laurie protested. “Okay, no, see, one moment you were up there, and now you’re back here.” She continued to point for emphasis.
Luci shook her head. “You’re not making sense – but you do look familiar. Are you one of the guests from Carrie’s party, perhaps?”
Laurie stared. And then Elizabeth appeared beside her. “Found you,” the blonde said. “Why are you here with – ooh, hold up, you’re Luci, right?”
Luci nodded, now looking concerned.
“Luci, can you make a point of locking down the time car that must have recently appeared? I can’t grab it yet, but I sure as heck don’t need the extra aggravation of worrying about it while I fight myself.”
Luci gaped. Elizabeth then turned to Laurie. “I think your middle name is Amelia?”
Amelia blinked. “Yeah – y-you know about that?”
“I must have looked it up at some point. Come along, Amelia.” Elizabeth reached out her hand. Amelia took it, and then the both of them disappeared off the street corner.
“This is incredible,” Anthony said, as Elizabeth and Amelia appeared in the generator control room next to him and Bernard. “Carr– um, Elizabeth, could you, like, pop the entire resistance invasion force into this room by doing that?”
“No,” Elizabeth said, letting out a slow breath. “Because first, it would have to be one at a time, second, I only made it back here by centring on Bernard, and finally, those couple trips took a LOT out of me.” She released Amelia. “But I wanted us all here because I need your input. Given how I think I’ll now need to defeat… me. Future Carrie.”
“You… you’re okay with doing that?” Amelia wondered.
Elizabeth shook her head. “No. Not really. Because I don’t see how it’s even possible. Carrie knows my every move, not merely because she’s particularly canny, well educated, or – let’s toss this in for laughs – hauntingly good looking, but because she WAS ONCE ME. Meaning the Elder Carrie HAS TO KNOW whatever it is I’m going to try next.” The blonde bit down on her lower lip. “As such, whatever I think of is a bad idea. So I’m kind of open to suggestions?”
At first, no one spoke.
ASIDE: The stage is set, the Liz & Mindy pieces will be explained shortly. What might you suggest to Elizabeth?
Incidentally, Tartra wrote a WFG review on Saturday, then we set a new all time high pageview count on Sunday, shattering our ceiling of 113. Hello to the person who apparently read the archive? (With the Part A&B thing, T&T is now 128 posts long.) Tartra writes “The Other Kind of Roommate” if anyone’s looking for more reading material.
I think I could use a table with names for each person from each timeline!
“Meaning the Elder Carrie HAS TO KNOW whatever it is I’m going to try next.” Is that true? With Elder Carrie and Really Elder Carrie it felt like there was some lag in the one’s experiences becoming the other.
Almost totally aside, are you a Roger Zelazny fan at all? The time shift battle from Lord of Light has been in my head the past week or so.
Well, the good news is we seem to have stabilized in Timeline Four for the moment. And anyone from the past will use middle names. You’re right to suspect lag though… events are a bit fluid around Carrie. That said, on previous occasions when she’s met herself, she hasn’t always remembered the way things took place with perfect accuracy either.
I had not known about Roger Zelazny. Looks like he enjoys blending science fiction with fantasy, is that what made you think about it, or was it something else?
That and the time enhanced fighting. My favorite single book of his is Eye of Cat, but the first Amber series is all-time great.