TT

TTC: Commentary 28

“Time & Tied” PARTS 94-96
1. Original Date Of Completion: SEPTEMBER 12, 2009
2. What I Was Doing: Full Time Contract Teacher in Ottawa
3. Changes of note:
-Chartreuse’s time car talk had been more cryptic (stone skipping)
-Convention of “young Carrie as Buffy, adolescent as Betty, adult as Liz, old as… Eliza?” (totally dropped)
-Laurie and Tim briefly flickered out of existence too
-Carrie thought of gassing the control room, not Glen
-Elizabeth was going to give up sooner, and send the others back
-Buffy’s second appearance with the apple (was recall only)
-Carrie somehow blew up the Miami time car by thought alone
-Buffy’s final battle had her as “Betty” (adolescent)
-Carrie made a case for inevitable victory, being part of her own past
-Elizabeth/Buffy forgiving Glen and Carrie (simply knocked them out)
-Timeline branching! (was cutting the time loop, restoring in present)
-Elder Carrie being temporally frozen (had been in imploding building)
-Chartreuse having a battery (had merely grabbed gun from Tim)
-Lee knocking out guy with dictionary (had been fly bar inside bldg)
-Julie and Corry were at library, Corry getting stabbed
-Chartreuse now in hospital with Carrie (had been Corry)
-Hank Waterson had asked Carrie about his wife/her mom (she initiates now)
-Chartreuse’s work with Beth and “vision plus” (had been all Carrie)
-Carrie’s quip she could appear with a new gun, apple-style (gone)
-Laurie as valedictorian (hadn’t been specified)

4. Additions of note:
-Elizabeth now interacting (briefly) with future resistance people
-Tim and Laurie got middle names!
-All talk of Theresa/Mindy’s fate and her role in things
-All talk of resistance forces (including lockdown references)
-Brief physical fight was added (before Carrie flinging time energy)
-Foreshadowed timeline branching, using wall circuits
-All scenes with middle name people during battle (including Glen knockout)
-New inner dialogue of Elizabeth’s powers pushing back at her
-Chartreuse explaining to Luci & Lee before firing the gun
-Carrie/Chartreuse girlfriend banter was new
-Talk of the alien artifact as being a fixed point

MAY DAYS

This past May became what we would call a ‘statistical anomaly’. The highest month for views that I ever had was July 2016, after the Guest Post over at Jim Zoetewey’s site (“Power Play” aka “Part 48c”, helping to launch Book 3 here). I had 944 page views that month. In May 2017? 1,933 page views, more than double that previous maximum. There’s a couple reasons for that.

Begins May 4th, 2 views. (Comments includes Pingbacks.)

The first, a review written by Tartra for Web Fiction Guide on May 6, 2017. That led to a new max page view count (143 on May 7th) as someone from Hungary binged through the entire archive. Her review also prompted something else – a massive revision on my part. Some of the feedback I get, I can only nod and shrug at (“Carrie’s a bitterly unlikeable protagonist”). Other feedback makes me realize changes are necessary (using ‘mama’ makes Carrie sound like “a Southern Belle from Texas”).

Along with the ‘mama’ issue was fact that there is “no reason why they all sound like they’ve been academically peer-reviewed”. Huh. Yeah, I am bad at synonyms. There truly IS no reason for Laurie to be using a word like “transcript” or Clarke suggesting they “circumvent” things; it doesn’t fit their personalities. Blindingly obvious in retrospect, but it flew under my radar. And once I knew, I couldn’t just let that sit… if it was disrupting Tartra’s reading experience, it was surely doing the same for others.

Starting May 13th, I went back to do a massive overhaul from the beginning. My energy started to peter out late in Book 2, but even so, ALL parts up to 47 have now been revamped, a number of them for the first time since their initial posting. It doesn’t fix everything. Frank gets a free language pass, as he’s supposed to be socially awkward, and so did Julie, trying to be a CEO. Corry and Luci (as their foils) also got latitude, to keep it manageable. Everyone else? Smacked with a thesaurus… in their dialogue, not in narration. Is it any better? We may never know.

The second reason for the viewing spike last month was a Guest Post at Drew Hayes’ site. His “Super Powereds” story is in the top 10 at “Top Web Fiction” with over 150 votes. He posted in the WFG forums about being away in late May, two months in advance, giving me plenty of time to think about what to write. (And I thank him for accepting me, despite how I knew my serial would be winding down.) I considered doing another story prior to “Book 3”, like I’d done with Jim, as well as something after the Epilogue, in the summer. That likely would have involved Carrie doubling up an artifact to prevent some sort of fireworks explosion, and at once point was even tentatively titled “Minute Waltz”.

It never quite gelled. Then, in late April, I had the thought of building to the main characters through some secondary characters. I felt they’d need to still be in high school for that. Azure was the natural choice, and with that, everything else came together within a few days. Using a bank robbery was a bit cliche (Jim did one in his guest post too), but I didn’t want to go with a mugging. Hence, a part in between the hospital scene and the graduation. There was the thought process behind that writing.

The day after my post on Drew’s site, my maximum page views leapt from 143 to 458. The Thursday also saw a count over 250, before things settled down to about 100 in a day (still way above normal). It’s usually trivial to see when one or two people are going through the archive (like it was last December). Now, for the first time, with a number of people in different places, I honestly wasn’t sure how many there were. There were 131 referrals in within a week, and I think at least a half dozen people made it to “Book 2”.

It’s a nice note to go out on. Another thing I now recognize is that my writing is pretty clinical and structured, and likely needs more emotional resonance. Something I’ll need to work on, assuming I’m able to fix it. (I really am very structured in my thinking.) So yeah, I’m still a bit in the “I suck” phase, hopefully the new “Epsilon” shows promise. One last shoutout now, to Rev Fitz, who reviewed the site on May 21; there was a slight bump before Drew’s post, which I’ll credit to him.

And a few final notes before we get into the last of the T&T Analysis:
-I have six 2017 coins, quarters and nickels, and have had them for over a month now. I think part of the reason is it’s Canada’s 150th “birthday”, prompting the earlier rollout, but I’m still sure there was a year I got two current pennies back in February. Anyway, it can happen before summer.
-A few interesting related news articles that I found but never linked to: The idea that the Future Can Affect The Past (related to observational states), how Befriending Your Future Self is good for your health (literally what Carrie does), and Physicists With a Model for a Time Machine (it needs exotic matter).
-“The innumerable possibilities…” line, spoken by Frank to start what is now “Respite II”, is in fact a call back to the SHUFFLE! game OP, which you may recall was music I’d decided might fit in with my “Season One” opening sequence. It all comes full circle. (The next “Shuffle!” theme to use might be “Really? Really!”. “There is one more possibility…”) Carrie’s response to Frank is a much vaguer callback to Steins;Gate.

SPOILER SECTION

Well, this is it.

As far as pacing goes, if we’re talking “3 act structure” (meet in act 1, tear up life in act 2, resolve in act 3), I like to think Book 4 works… except, of course, Carrie isn’t even THERE for most of the “tearing up” part; Chartreuse and the rest have to deal with Theresa being Mindy. (Also, a number of characters entered into act 1 already “broken”.)

Does it work, having the main character GONE for such a large part? And with call-backs to earlier books? I hope so? Certainly the plot as a whole feels like it works for me, temporally. It may help if you envision Future Carrie as being the present, what with Mindylenopia going back sparking the entire rewritten history, and hence why “our Carrie” became “Elizabeth”. Related, I suspect Tim’s new middle name subconsciously came from the “Piers Anthony” books on my shelf, while Amelia is from “Doctor Who” (Amelia “Amy” Pond).

Speaking of characters, let’s switch over to them. To make it interesting, I’ll list the twelve mains in my personal preference from least to greatest. Feel free to speak up in the comments, about my order, or any differences you have on my personal takes.

TIM: He never fully gelled for me. I never even settled on a medical condition. Very underused in Books 1 and 2, because there wasn’t much linguistic going on (the lawyer connection helped keep him involved). His arc in Book 4 basically involves him fitting in without being taken advantage of, knocking out Glen being the cap on that, but that was a late addition.

GLEN: Kind of a slave to the plot, plus has this unhealthy obsession with Carrie, who is all but a confirmed lesbian (something he’d know in the future). I didn’t want him to be an overt villain, but despite sticking to his internal morals, I feel that’s what he was reduced to in the end.

CORRY: The antagonist for Julie, meant to be a decent guy deep down, but we never saw a lot of that. Which itself is fine (and he is a self aware jerk) but when the school plot finished, basically, his plot did too. He became a catalyst for Laurie. We got some insight into his past with Book 4, but that was only because the original writing for him there didn’t work.

CLARKE: The conscience to Julie, and in a way, he suffers the same fate as Corry. We don’t get much of him unless Julie’s involved. His Julie fixating was handled (I hope), in the conversation before their work on the car, but while I felt like the relationship angle did tie up decently? There’s not much more to him, aside from being a nice guy.

MINDY: Another jerk-style character, but with a better conscience than Glen or Corry. Her time as Theresa helped with that, but even Future Mindy displayed some perspective on her role. Possibly the first character I’m truly satisfied with (which holds for the ones below too).

LEE: The satellite member of the group, his arc peaked early, when he willingly became involved to help with the chip. Which Carrie messed with. Still, his immunity kept him relevant, his family is interesting, and despite his penchant for nicknames, he cares for the others and follows through on that with actions.

LUCI: I’m a bit surprised she’s not higher, but the adoption and ties to Frank ended up defining a lot of her character (we never even see her parents). I wish I hadn’t given her the extra sexual trauma, but didn’t know what else to use as I did edits. Still, over the span of the story, she came to terms with her emotions, with failure, and it felt plausible that her Future version managed to keep her life together.

JULIE: She wants to do the right thing. In Book 1, she thinks the right thing is winning her parents at any cost. In Book 2, she thinks vanishing completely is the necessity. In Book 3, she tries to help her friends, the only way she knows how. Now in Book 4, I feel Julie’s finally grappling with her own fate. With not being manipulated, overtly or otherwise, and admitting to Phil about their relationship. And while Future Julie was mean, her actions did come from a place of caring; I put her through a wringer. She makes it into the Top 5.

LAURIE: Laurie, sweetie, you managed to surprise me at every turn. A naive and sobbing counterpoint to everyone in the early drafts, you started to take control with every revision, and ended up literally kicking ass in a new addition. Your babbling became passionate speeches, and somehow, despite the insanity around you, you never compromised your principles. You are truly a Veniti (as well as a valedictorian). I foresee a different, brighter future for you in the new timeline.

FRANK: The only male character to rank highly, I will admit he is a bit of a self insert. So maybe the blinders are on. While most of his arc towards getting along with people was back in the first Books, the biggest setbacks he faced were in Book 4. One could argue he was forced into the hard situations, like mediating between Future Luci and Future Julie, or telling Mindy about her inevitable death, but even if his options were limited, he stepped up to the plate. In some sense, he ended up as the glue holding everyone else together.

Carrie Commission (2014)
By Kai-Shii

CARRIE: For all her flaws and inconsistencies (including apparently being a tsundere), I do like her. In Book 1, she was out for herself, lashing out physically. In Book 2, she accepted she wasn’t the centre of the world – even as events showed she was. In Book 3, she was beaten down, and pushed into a journey of personal (and sexual) discovery. In Book 4, she tried a Julie-style sacrifice, and when her friends wouldn’t let her, she found a better way. Her speech at the end, about coming to terms with mistakes she made and will make, to me, that’s key, and is what this whole story is about.

CHARTREUSE: Like, ohmigawd. She got herself a girlfriend, the hard way, via the hospital. Grappling with temporal theory on the way. So many of the new scenes involved Chartreuse somehow, and even in edits she stepped up to fix plot holes, left, right and centre. All my guest posting incorporated her, and heck, there’s probably a reason I put her into Epsilon even before all of this went online. She’s also the mystic and fantasy entry into a mostly sci-fi world. And she makes me smile. Well done, Chartreuse, you came far from very humble beginnings.

Do you agree with my choices/reasoning?

The plan for “Time Untied” is to keep those last two together, but have Carrie at the University of Ottawa and Chartreuse at Carleton University, in the same city. Because I wanted Chartreuse, but didn’t want her and Carrie too close; their interests are different, plus being forced apart will allow their relationship to grow (or falter) as needed. Also, the only other city with two universities I know well, Waterloo, is more tech-oriented… Frank’s liable to be there, and I do want to pull away from him.

Speaking of the sequel, I mused through a few other titles before settling on “Time Untied”, including “Time Release” and the related “Time Re:Leased”. If you read the bonus post from last Friday, you’ve seen that it will involve the existence of at least one OTHER person who has powers like Carrie. (Hey, it’s a second timeline, after all.) That’s why the whole story needs to be pre-written, later elements are SURE to impact earlier parts (much like Book 1), and it needs to be internally consistent.

At the same time, if you squint, there’s other details that were never really explained. The pocket watch Elaine had, which somehow seemed to synch up with time travel. The relevance of Mr. Veniti doing genetics research in the past. Why Frank only gradually faded from existence in that Timeline Three. All threads that have vague explanations in my mind, which may or may not be pulled on in the sequel as needed. (You’re welcome to hypothesize by commenting here, in advance.)

Anything else? Well, quick shout-out to the guy in the future control room being called “Walter”, a reference to “Stargate SG-1”. Also a shout-out to Mez, since my first revision of Part 96 removed all references to Carrie’s mom, and it was his comment on the earlier part which prompted me to put some of that back in. And a final thanks to Scott Delahunt, John Golden, and Chris Burke, for their support over the years (giving us Principal Dell Hunt, Julie’s psychologist Doc Golden, and the teacher Mr. Burke).

Maybe this universe will be back. Time will tell.

Parts 94/95/96 were originally “Endgame” which became the title of 95a. Remember you can still VOTE for T&T at “Top Web Fiction”, any time, so that others might find the story. Thank you for reading.

Coming This Sunday: “Epsilon Project” continues. The vote in Part 1 is still open!

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TT5.00: Time Untied

Congratulations, you’ve found the Season 2 bonus. (The Season 1 bonus was “Arc 2.4 Outtakes“, if you missed it.)

What follows is an excerpt from the 10,000 words that were written back in 2015, when T&T was first launching on this site. It involves events taking place during Carrie’s first term at University. Will I continue the story from here? I certainly have ideas, but it depends on reader interest (let me know if you want more), and my writing time (I resume teaching in September). The earliest we’d see anything is in 2018.

I CAN say that, if and when I continue, it won’t be called “Time & Tied Book 5”. I’ve learned that people will invariably want to go back to the beginning of any series – my efforts to launch “Book 3” as an entry point failed. And T&T starts slooooow, doing a poor job of hooking readers. Comparatively, the story of Carrie at University starts faster, has a new main cast, and should be able to hit the necessary backstory early on. Hence “Time Untied Book 1”. (Like a spinoff, maybe?)

So what more could possibly happen in the T&T (aka TU) universe? Read on, and let me know if you like it. I’m skipping the bit where Carrie first arrives at her University of Ottawa dorm, and meets Kat.

***

TIME UNTIED

PART 00

“You should NOT be able to move,” Carrie gasped, now registering the figure in the cloak who was standing at the door. She tensed to jump again, but now that the element of surprise seemed to be gone, the figure was simply standing there.

Carrie ran a quick mental check. Partly to allow her mind to catch up to her own small temporal alteration, which allowed her slight headache to ebb away. Partly to see if her freezing effect was, in fact, working after all. To that end, she glanced sidelong at her new roommate.

Katherine – Kat – did seem to have been temporally suspended mid-shriek. Moreover, her new roommate’s unmoving body seemed substantial once again. Implying that Carrie herself was no longer in imminent danger. Unless Kat’s lack of transparency was some side effect of the temporal freeze? Carrie grimaced. She was in uncharted territory here.

“Every time,” the figure with the gun mumbled.

Okay, so the gunman was not frozen. Damn. On the bright side, he – it was a male voice – still hadn’t fired, despite the fact that the gun itself was outfitted with a silencer. Meaning there was a good chance no one else on the floor would even hear the shots.

Others might hear Kat yelling though – and would the danger of more people make this guy hesitate? Or back off? With a twitch of her finger, Carrie unfroze time again. After all, it obviously hadn’t bought her the advantage she’d expected, plus it was taxing to maintain.

“Shut up,” the cloaked man said, turning his gun in Kat’s direction while continuing to look at Carrie. The shrieking noise that had resumed at Carrie’s act now died past Kat’s lips. “Good girl.”

He turned the gun back on Carrie. “Carrie Waterson. I believe I finally have an offer you cannot refuse.”

Carrie heard Kat take a couple deep breaths. “F-Finally? C-Carrie, who…?”

“Don’t know,” Carrie answered, leery of taking her eyes off the guy for more than a second. Honestly, she had the same question. Presumably, like Kat, this was someone else she’d encounter in her future, but for him, it was the past.

Carrie’s frown deepened, not liking the idea that the future was again affecting changes to her present. She thought she’d dealt with that whole mess once and for all back in high school!

She had to figure this guy out. Which meant, keep him talking. “Okay Cloaky, what offer you got?”

“Either you let me kill you,” the man began. “Or…” He fished a cell phone device out of his cloak pocket using his non-gun hand. “Or I use this to detonate an explosive, killing dozens of innocent people on campus.” He took a step closer. “So, who will it be? You or them?”

Carrie narrowed her eyes, ignoring the gasp from Kat. Okay, his no-nonsense tone implied this was even bigger than she’d originally thought.

Which pissed her off, because why couldn’t the two future warring factions confine their activities to, you know, their own damn present? She had no intention of living her life like some bad temporal cold war episode of “Star Trek: Enterprise”. Though she supposed it only took one idiot like this guy to want to experiment with the “Terminator” option.

Yeah, Frank’s televised time travel marathons weren’t really helping her out here.

“I’m the future tipping point,” Carrie said, as if that explained everything.

Which it did. She had to survive. She was the nuclear option. Dozens of innocents in the present? Inconsequential, when compared to what it was she had to be around for. Her fingernails dug into her palms. Except, she really didn’t want people getting hurt on her account. Not any more.

“You’re not the only one.”

Carrie shuddered. What the HELL did he mean by that?

Okay, keeping the guy talking was officially a BAD plan – he obviously knew more than enough to keep her unbalanced. She had to get the upper hand some other way.

Perhaps, Carrie mused, if she sped up her own personal time, she could unmask him? Or at least get that cell phone trigger away? Carrie readied herself for a temporal burst of speed… and Kat whimpered. Carrie froze. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw that her roommate had gone slightly transparent once again.

Carrie quickly banished the plan from her mind. Kat’s form became solid. Carrie did her best not to stare with wide eyes. Her roommate was acting like a divining rod into her future! Into their future! Because if Carrie died here, now, before saving Kat – her roommate wouldn’t exist.

Well, that was beneficial,  given how messing up and tracking back along one’s own timeline to erase mistakes had a number of costly drawbacks. Assuming necessary alterations were even possible. The question was, had Cloaky noticed what had happened to Kat?

“You’re spending too long thinking about this,” the figure decided. “So, in ten seconds, I’ll detonate this device – and pull out another!”

It seemed he hadn’t seen, but now she had another problem. “Wait,” Carrie requested, still hoping for an angle. “I’m not the threat you think I am. Maybe I can help you in your cause! Let’s discuss things before you do something rash.”

A Temporal might not be willing to bargain, but if the guy was a Mundane… “No deal. Seven seconds.”

Damn! Why was it that her freezing hadn’t affected this guy? Had they invented countermeasures in the future? What if she tried unleashing something a little stronger from within her core? Like temporal banishment! No. Kat’s slight hyperventilating, as the redhead’s body shimmered yet again, indicated to Carrie that deeper powers would only increase the chances of her being killed.

“You or them? Four seconds.”

But if her powers were of no use, what could she do, other than allow this explosive to detonate? She might be able to loop back and undo it later. Evacuate the location or something. Because the needs of the many in the future outweighed the needs of the few here. Granted, this also meant that her own singular need for survival was being placed above the survival of these few innocents! Was that irony?

“Last chan– AGGHHHH!”

Carrie gaped. With his focus on her, apparently the guy had all but forgotten about Kat being in the room. And her new roommate had, in that final second, seen fit to lunge at him, jamming some device at his closest hand, electricity arcing out of it. Carrie hadn’t even been paying attention to how the redhead had been inching towards her desk to grasp it.

Cloaky’s momentary spasm caused him to lose his grip on both the cell phone and the gun.

Kat was making a dive for the former, so Carrie made a move for the latter. She immediately realized that the figure was going to be able to grab the gun first. So instead she reached to the side, grabbed Kat as she touched the phone, and time jumped.

***

Sherlock tried not to sound disappointed when the cute redhead turned him down for dinner. Though, she’d seemed to be busy with something, so he reasoned that perhaps he could try again later that week. When she wasn’t so preoccupied. After all, he’d probably see a lot of her, given how she was rooming right next door.

At least, he rather hoped to see more of her. Given that she had to be not only pretty, but also intelligent, having gotten into the University and all. The glasses also helped with that look. And the British accent. So, as long as she didn’t have an abrasive personality, perhaps the two of them could…

His thoughts trailed off as he turned around the corner of their floor, and saw the redheaded girl again. Except this time she looked to be unconscious, and another girl, a blonde one, was trying to drag her into an elevator.

His eyes met those of the blonde. He pointed back down the corridor. “Isn’t that the same girl I was…?”

“STOP,” the blonde said, authoritatively. He returned his gaze to her, having been about to retrace his steps down the hallway.

“Get in,” she continued with a sigh, jerking her head at the elevator she was entering.

Sherlock shrugged. “Okay.”

After all, it wasn’t as if she could knock him out too, her hands were full. And if this redhead was in distress, perhaps he could help!

“Ground floor,” the blonde requested. Obligingly, he pushed the button as she continued to keep the unconscious girl’s body from sliding to the ground. “You know Kat?” she continued once the elevator doors had closed.

“Not by name,” Sherlock admitted, even as he took note of it. “Is she okay?”

“She’ll be fine.”

Sherlock nodded. “Is she also a twin? Because I could have SWORN that I was talking to her a moment ago. In the room next to mine.”

“It’s… complicated,” came the girl’s response, coupled with a grimace.

Kat stirred then, her green eyes blinking open. She reached a hand up to her face, nearly dislodging her glasses. “Wh-what? Where…”

Her body jerked as she tried to regain her footing, nearly pulling both girls down onto the elevator floor. “The bomb! The gun! Why are we in the lift?! Were YOU the one in the cloak?!?” she accused, jabbing her finger in Sherlock’s direction.

“No!” he answered. He lifted an eyebrow. “Unless you like cloaks?”

With a ‘ding’, the elevator doors opened on the lower floor, revealing two new girls and their luggage waiting to get on.

“Agh, damn it,” the blonde snapped. “Where is there any privacy – both of you, come with me!” she ordered, grabbing Kat’s arm and pushing past the others in the dorm’s lobby.

“Come with me if you want to live?” Sherlock joked, following after.

“I think so,” Kat said to him. For the first time, he registered the very frightened look on her face.

***

CARRIE and KAT

What do you think of that? Should I continue it, or write something else instead?

NEXT: Final T&T Commentary posts next Tuesday. “Epsilon” starts Sunday.

TT4.96c: Respite II

PREVIOUSLY: Everything. Including this guest post.

Previous INDEX END?

PART 96c: RESPITE II

“The innumerable possibilities are now in your hands,” Frank remarked, coming up to stand beside Carrie.

“Ah, yes. Here we are, in the world with an unknown future,” the blonde mused. She spun the graduation cap she was holding, finally turning away from the school library. “Where really, my hands are no more important than anyone else’s.”

Frank jerked his head back towards where she’d been looking, in the process dislodging his own cap, which he caught. “Were you just thinking about the van crash, the timelines, and Mindylenopia?”

“Yeah,” Carrie admitted. “And not only her sacrifice in the past. I’ve realized she’ll likely still be a part of our future.”

Frank frowned. “Wait, what? Carrie, our paths are all un-predestined here. Especially for us, two people who never graduated high school in that alternate timeline.”

“Meaning we can change this timeline, Frank,” Carrie asserted. “ONE timeline. We didn’t change the nature of the universe. So while our lives will be different, that alien artifact that your Future Luci mentioned? Something tells me that’s a fixed point for us as well. Meaning there will be time travel. Meaning Temporals. Meaning a new Mindylenopia could be born into this future, with a new Glinephanis, and new interferences.” She smiled. “It’s how we HANDLE all of those events, that’s what becomes the real difference.”

“Right,” Frank said. He smiled back. “You’re getting good at this temporal theory stuff. And you can peek a few days ahead with your power too, so that’s an advantage if there’s trouble.”

Carrie snorted. “Yeah, but no. One thing Chartreuse and I have kinda decided is to leave future vision scrying to her. I mean, even setting aside the ‘me seeing only pre-destined things’ problem, if I’ve resolved not to randomly poke my fingers into my own past? Then I should have the courtesy to not to do it to my future self either. Or anyone else’s future selves.”

“So you’re renouncing your powers?”

Carrie shook her head. “I didn’t say THAT.”

“So it’s merely that you prefer to think about… other things whenever you’re with Chartreuse?”

“I didn’t say that eith–” Carrie eyed his waggling eyebrows, then reached out to smack him in the arm with her graduation cap. “Seriously? Get your mind out of the gutter.”

Frank chuckled. “Sorry. It’s just, ever since it became official around the school, you’re both so cagey about how far you’ve actually–”

“And you KNOW I’ll smack you again if you keep on that topic, right?”

“Okay, okay, back to time travel. Carrie, what if by not using your powers, you end up making an otherwise avoidable mistake?”

“Oh, I’ll make mistakes.” Carrie idly pulled some strands of hair into her fingers, twisting them about. “After all, you only truly learn by messing up, and then correcting things. Assuming you can. Because the alternative? Being told ‘hey, you have to do this now’? That’s not learning. That’s damn annoying. Whether you’re being told ‘what to do’ by a future version of yourself or not.”

Frank grinned. “Wise words. For the record, I voted for you. For valedictorian.”

Carrie chuckled. “Thanks. But I’m glad Laurie won instead. I think she’s come further than anyone else did in our four years here. Well, in terms of the stuff normal people get to know about.” She dropped her hair and sighed. “We should get going to our designated grad rooms. Keep in touch next year from university, and all that?”

“For sure,” Frank agreed. “I’ll message you whenever I’m doing my mathematics homework.”

“Ha!” Carrie rolled her eyes. “I said I was considering a MINOR in maths, so that I’m not completely out of the loop on time travel theory and whatever. Kinesiology, that’s where it’s at for me.”

“No, I mean I’ll want someone with cool temporal stories to tell, who can remind me why I’ll want to keep studying this stuff.” Frank grinned, then began to walk away, only to pause and gesture. “After you, O Temporal One?”

Carrie shook her head. “Don’t inflate my ego. Let’s simply head towards the uncertainties of the future together, okay?”

With a shared nod and a smile, the two teenagers clasped their hands and walked down the school hallway one last time.

 

END OF TIME & TIED

CARRIE MAY RETURN IN… TIME UNTIED

Previous INDEX END?

WHERE TO GO FROM HERE?

  • The story of Chartreuse continues in “Epsilon Project”‘s second story, “Wish Fulfilment“, if you would like to read more about her in the summer after high school.
  • This site will continue with “Epsilon Project”‘s fourth story, that you can vote on here until the end of May (tomorrow). It will publish Sundays, with weekly votes.
  • Time Untied. Yeah. If you haven’t been reading the commentaries, the saga of Carrie was once envisioned as being five seasons, aka ten books. We’re not even halfway. That said, not much else has actually been written. But this Friday, I will post an excerpt from Time Untied that I wrote in 2015, including an explanation for why I’m not calling it Time & Tied Book 5.
  • There will be one further Commentary posted in a week (next Tuesday), with behind-the-scenes for the last parts, some more site stats talk and character analysis.
  • You can go back and read “Time & Tied” from the beginning if you like, it’s been recently reformatted. Related, I’m rerunning it daily on Royal Road Legends (we just hit Book 3), where there is the occasional character poll. (You can also comment here about your faves.)
  • I run a personified math webcomic too. If that is in any way your thing.
  • There are a number of links in the sidebar to other serial sites with similar material (time travel, voting, etc).
  • There are a number of other good serials on “Top Web Fiction”, which you can easily access by clicking here: Vote for T&T 😉
  • Maybe someone will comment with another suggestion…?

Anyway, thanks for reading. If it weren’t for you, I’d basically be talking to myself. I hope you stick around for more and/or return if Time Untied gets off the ground; in the meantime, all the best.

TT4.96b: Resolution

PREVIOUSLY: Carrie/Elizabeth forked the timeline. This allows her to become a Temporal God in the timeline she created.

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PART 96b: RESOLUTION

Chartreuse counted to ten before following Frank and Beth around to the front of the library. She watched as the time trippers piled into the time car and, after Frank grabbed the briefcase from the trunk, finally pulled away from the building.

She then ducked down as the gunman who had fired in their direction ran down the front steps of the library, waving his weapon. The guy managed to prevent a vehicle that had been pulling out of the parking lot from leaving. It was as the guy climbed into the passenger seat, pointing his gun at the driver, that Chartreuse knelt down in the snow, to open the trombone case she was carrying.

She pulled out the temporal gun. Along with one other item.

As the gunman’s hijacked car drove out onto the road, there was a flash of light. The driver swerved to avoid hitting the glasses-wearing teenager who had appeared. The car hit a patch of ice and spun out, slamming into a nearby telephone pole. The passenger door was wedged shut in the impact; for the moment, there was nothing to worry about there.

Chartreuse attached her item onto the recharge port of the gun. She then moved to get herself a good bracing position at the bottom of the staircase, kneeling down, pressing the bottom of her boot back into the concrete pillar. She knew the kickback from the gun would be a problem.

A second blond man ran out of the library, followed closely by Lee and Luci. The guy dashed down the stairs, and got about three steps further before being clocked in the head by the dictionary Lee had thrown. Their adversary went face first into a snowbank. Not that far away from him, another familiar person appeared from out of nowhere.

“Tim?” Luci gasped. She took the stairs down two at a time, pausing at the bottom. “Chartreuse? What are you doing?”

“Preparing,” she muttered back. She took aim across the parking lot.

Luci blinked. “When did you end up with the temporal gun? And why is the safety off?”

Luci reached down for it, and Chartreuse slapped her hand away.

“Chartreuse!” Luci said. “You’re being reckless – and what do you have on the recharge port?”

“A battery.”

Luci’s eyes widened. “WHAT? You CANNOT be thinking of charging that thing while you’re firing. That’s INSANE.”

“So is she,” Chartreuse whispered.

A short distance away, Laurie appeared.

Luci now reached down with both hands, and so Chartreuse shoved her friend back, out of the way. Luci fell into the snow. “Luci, I’ll, you know, explain later, there’s no time now!”

“Why not? Chartreuse, what is going on?”

Chartreuse looked back at the asian girl, and then at Lee, who was helping her stand back up. In that instant, Chartreuse wondered, what if she died here, and never got to explain?

“Okay, fast version? The day after we, like, talked to Mr. Waterson, I had a vision of today. Looking into it more led me to this experience ten minutes ago, where I used a set of paired relaxation crystals to tell our Carrie to, you know, nudge Mindy’s time car. And now I know that in, like, a few seconds, I’ll have my only chance at saving her.”

Chartreuse looked back across the parking lot. Which was when the blonde teenager appeared, her maniacal laughter echoing eerily around the whole area, her feet starting to lift off the ground as temporal energy sparked all around her, originating at her fingertips.

Chartreuse fired.

Energy lanced out of the gun.

The cackling blonde girl absorbed it. At first.

Chartreuse never moved her finger off the trigger. Even as her own body was driven back into the concrete post behind her, she continued the sustained burst. Tears sprang to her eyes as she felt an ankle give out with a snap, but she kept the gun up and on target. The battery on the port chirped… and the energy blast continued. Across the parking lot, Carrie stopped laughing.

“Chartreuse, stop!” Luci shrieked.

“I’m not losing her again,” Chartreuse cried. “Carrie! Carrie, I love you! CARRIE, COME BACK TO ME!”

“Chartreuse, the gun’s overloading!” Luci reached out again, only to have Lee pull her back, twisting his body around and using it as a shield.

The temporal gun exploded in Chartreuse’s hands.

But not before Carrie’s head had snapped back, her body falling into the snow as the golden light in her eyes faded away.

***

Carrie listened to the voices around her for a minute or two. From the sound of things, she was again in a hospital. And… geez, had the entire temporal group come to pay her a visit? She cracked open an eyelid.

“Carrie’s awake now,” Luci said immediately.

Opening her other eye, Carrie was able to make out… well, Luci, Frank, Clarke, Julie, Corry, Laurie, Tim, Lee, and even her own father. But not… “Char-treuse?” Carrie croaked out, through dry lips.

Laurie clasped her hands together. “Carrie immediately wants her girlfriend. The one who saved her soul. Oh my God, all the squee!”

The people closest to the head of the bed moved away, and as Lee did so, he made an elaborate gesture towards the next bed over. Carrie followed his motion, where she saw…

“Hi Carrie,” Chartreuse chirped. “I’d, you know, give a thumbs up, except…” She held up her arm, which had been completely wrapped up in bandages.

“She’ll be fine,” Clarke broke in, as Carrie found herself unable to avoid looking horrified. “Don’t worry.”

“Yeah, in fact we originally came here to see Chartreuse,” Corry remarked, crossing his arms. “We didn’t know when you’d wake up. So don’t get a swelled head, Waterson.”

“Speak for yourself,” the older Waterson objected.

Carrie licked her lips, her gaze shifting over to her father. “Dad. Gods, I’m sorry, I never meant to leave you alone in the present for so lon– geuh, I… I mean…”

“He knows about the power,” Frank reminded Carrie. “There was this whole thing where you had a double named Beth wandering through the school last month? So we kind of had to fill him in?”

“Oh. Right.” Carrie brought her hand to her forehead. Last month? “What day IS it?”

“January second,” Tim supplied. “H-Happy new year.”

“I really hope having no coins means we’ll get a few months before we see more time travellers,” Julie observed.

Carrie exhaled. “Yeah, there… there won’t be any more of that happening. Not now. We’re on a parallel time track now.”

The people around her bed exchanged glances. “Carrie,” Frank began. “Based on the temporal theory that a Future Luci explained to me, it’s highly unlikely that multiple time tracks–”

“TRUST me,” Carrie interrupted. “Our Luci’s path itself could be different going forwards. We can talk theory later, but for now, even if anyone from the revised future does try to rewrite us? Believe me when I say I know how to divert them out of our timeline.”

“In a SAFE way, yes?” Chartreuse piped up. “Because I don’t want a rerun. Even setting aside the, you know, temporal gun blowing up on me, I had to stick close to Beth last month in order to get a read on her majorly displaced temporal energy. That way I could, like, use it, in order to forecast my way further into the future than I ever have before. And that sort of ‘vision plus’? Featuring Insane Carrie clarifying the library events I’d seen? Not my, you know, happiest place.”

“I’ll find a safe way of dealing with time travellers,” Carrie assured. She checked herself. “Actually Chartreuse, we both will. Together.”

Chartreuse beamed.

Carrie’s gaze shifted back to her father. “Thing is, in this timeline, I can’t bring Mom back. I’m sorry. If it means anything, she was alive, in the future of another timeline… maybe that’s why some part of you felt like Mom never died?”

Hank Waterson flinched. “Oh. Well. Was she happy there?”

“I… I don’t know. Damn it, I didn’t even check.” Carrie’s head hit her pillow. “I’m sorry. I should have. Hell, maybe I could have even brought her too, I had all that power, it’s just I didn’t even think, I was so focussed on the separation. Dad, I’m so sorry…”

His hand reached out to squeeze hers. “It’s okay, honey. Let’s assume she was happy, and focus on the present. Because Carrie, you’re what’s important to me right now.”

She squeezed his hand back, and found that she was able to meet his hopeful look with a smile.

Lee cleared his throat. “Uh, hate to interrupt a moment, but we already DO have two other time travel guys? Arrested at the library?” He jerked his thumb towards the window. “Do we worry about them?”

Carrie frowned. “No, I wouldn’t. If they were trying to disrupt the awakening of my full potential, it didn’t work.”

“I’ve filed a police report there anyway,” Mr. Waterson added. “Along with what happened at the library, they’re being charged with the attempted kidnapping of my daughter. Never mind that it was technically that Beth girl at the time.”

“So, like Shady, they’re going to end up in the justice system,” Luci mused.

“S-So what’s next for us then?” Tim wondered. “Anything?”

“No,” Carrie groaned. “I pass on doing ANYTHING for the next while. Well, aside from schoolwork, which I guess I’m massively behind on, since my leaving during the talent show.” She looked towards Laurie. “Meaning guess what? You’re still in charge of the cheerleading. In fact, if you’re willing, it’s yours for the rest of our senior year.”

Laurie blinked. “Golly. Thanks.”

Carrie smiled. “Just because this new timeline has me staying in town, that’s no reason to take your future away from you.”

“But Laurie’s behind in her schoolwork too,” Corry protested. “She left for her fake art camp right after you vanished, Carrie!”

“So I’ll work hard,” Laurie said, crossing her arms in imitation of her brother. “Plus I have lots of friends who can help. I’m not letting Carrie or the other cheerleaders down, bro!”

“Ooh, watch out, Power Cad,” Lee said, chuckling at Corry’s sigh of resignation. “Double V here might end up running the school with the Cross One. Instead of it being you and the Rich Witch.”

Clarke frowned. “Witch? Lee, you might want to consider updating–”

“No, no, it’s fine, Phil,” Julie interrupted. “After all, those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it. The only thing that matters to me right now is how the two of us could work on the time car together. To kind of… find ourselves again.” She fingered her rose brooch before leaning into him with a smile. Clarke grinned back, raising his arm to encircle her shoulders.

Frank turned to Carrie. “That reminds me. We didn’t spot the car anywhere in town. Did you send it back?”

Carrie pressed her hand to her head. “Oops. No… I forgot. Didn’t want to do a global removal, or we’d likely have ended up with our Glen again. He’s a headache I don’t need. It’s probably for the best though? No time machine, no time gun, no Temporals, just us, and our normal, everyday lives from this point on.”

“No car and stuff?” Laurie moaned, her arms uncrossing. “Golly, I really hope alt-future-Laurie enjoys using my art supplies.”

Mr. Waterson cleared his throat. “Well, as much as I’m enjoying learning more about recent events, unless there’s anything else that’s urgent, I think my daughter and her girlfriend could use their rest.”

Carrie’s eyes went wide. “Oh. My. God. Dad, NO, do NOT say girlfriend yet, we haven’t really officially – oh NO!” She jerked her gaze back over to the adjacent bed. “Chartreuse, you said you had to get close to Beth? Are you saying you two have, like, kissed the way we did, and that the whole school now knows about… about…”

“No,” Chartreuse gasped. “Carrie, you’re, you know, the only one for me. And if you want, no one outside of this room has to, like, know that.”

“Okay. Okay, good.” Carrie let out a breath. “I mean, others can know. I just need a few days here, minimum.”

“Confirming it IS a relationship?” Luci said, winking.

“She did say kissed Beth ‘the way we did’,” Corry remarked.

“Plus there was that whole soul saving they did,” Julie observed.

Carrie felt her face getting warm. She pulled her bedsheets up over her head. “My Dad said it’s rest time. Goodbye now!” There were a few chuckles, followed by a shuffling of feet as people started moving away.

She gave it a good ten seconds, then pulled the sheets back down to her neck. “But before you leave? Thanks. For everything. I mean it.” She made a point of meeting each of their gazes with a smile, as they looked back at her. “Because I wouldn’t be here now. Not if it weren’t for each and every one of you.”

*

NEXT: Respite II, an Epilogue of sorts. Please stick around.

ASIDE: Part of the reason for splitting the last entry at this point is for site transition time back to Epsilon Project. (You can vote for that plot here.) But it’s ALSO because Drew Hayes was taking guest posts this week on his site. Read my post here, which in continuity, takes place a few months after the events above. Then consider sticking around on Drew’s site to check out his material, and the other guest posts.

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TT4.96a: The Ultimate Paradox

PREVIOUSLY: Carrie of the past (Elizabeth) is trying to figure out how to not become the Future Carrie of Timeline Four.

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PART 96a: THE ULTIMATE PARADOX

“Missed me,” Elizabeth shouted as she charged through the fog, getting near to where she imagined Carrie would be.

“I’d rather not have even more memories of being in hospital, but I will if I have to,” Carrie shouted back – with a voice that was far too close.

Elizabeth back-pedalled, and carefully began to generate a temporal attack in her palms. A blast that she hoped would freeze at a distance, and not be the temporal freezing that required transmission by touch. “You will be banished,” she shouted, hoping to continue to keep Carrie’s attention on her, and off Buffy.

“I can’t banish myself, stupid,” Carrie snarked back. “I’m immune!”

“I mean you will be banished from being my future. Ha!” Elizabeth retorted. “Because even if you ARE good looking, you’ve got a lousy attitude.”

Something cut through the mist towards her. Elizabeth dropped towards the ground, firing off the charge she’d been generating. Energies collided, spiralling left, and there was a booming sound as they blew out (in?) another part of the wall. Well, that had been pointless. She probably wasn’t going to win this with temporal energy either.

‘Not unless you create a larger charge!’ a part of her insisted then. ‘Just give yourself over to it, time is everything, it’s the humanity holding you back… let it go…’

Elizabeth grit her teeth, and pushed herself back up onto her feet. “Yes, fine, you’re part of me, but I remain in control,” she asserted, saying it aloud to put more force behind the thought.

“No, I’M in control,” Carrie’s voice came again. “Because I’ve now worked out how to deal with there being two of you here.”

“Oh yeah? Kinky, but no thanks,” Elizabeth shouted back. She back-pedalled again, knowing every time she spoke she gave away her position – and she nearly stumbled into the wall. Damn it, the mist was disorienting her now.

“The reason I can affect memories,” Carrie continued, as if she hadn’t heard, “is because they’re formed by the passage of time. Meaning, of course, if I can reach into someone’s past and disrupt the particular time when those memories were stored? I can erase, or with a bit more finesse, even alter them.”

Elizabeth tried firing off another blast towards the sound of Carrie’s voice. Carrie simply laughed.

READ MORE

TT4.95b: Carrie Versus Herself

PREVIOUSLY: Carrie of the past (Elizabeth) is trying to figure out how to not become the Future Carrie of Timeline Four.

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PART 95b: CARRIE VERSUS HERSELF

They barely got three paces inside the room before Glen was pointing a gun at them. “Freeze!” he said. Elizabeth’s companions froze in place. She realized then that he’d used his mental power.

Except while Glen sounded confident, Elizabeth noticed that he looked worried. He obviously hadn’t expected their mad rush into the control room. Then, looking around, she realized something else. Elizabeth quickly reached out, grabbing the mop that Anthony was still holding, tossing it back behind them. Keeping the main door ajar.

“Move back.” Glen waggled his gun, and Elizabeth, Bernard, Amelia and Anthony all stepped backwards, towards the wall. “I don’t know how you managed to gain access,” Glen remarked. “But this facility DOES have an armoury, and we WERE prepared for that unlikely eventuality.” He gestured at the floor, where there were at least a half dozen other gun-style weapons, along with a small box of what Elizabeth assumed were bombs.

“Unbelievable,” Elder Carrie remarked from behind Glen. “To think that I was once that insanely stupid. God, I hate myself.”

“Come over here and say that,” Elizabeth challenged.

“Don’t even bother with them,” Glen said to Carrie. He rose from his chair and began to advance. “The only question now, Elizabeth, is whether we send your friends here back to their present as they are now… or whether you force us to do it with them a little more… let’s say, wounded?”

Bernard turned to look at Elizabeth. “A version of you actually picks this guy over us?”

“I know,” Elizabeth sighed. “I’m sorry. I’m working on it.”

Glen stopped a few paces away. “Funny. Come on now, this will be SO much easier if you simply accept your destiny.”

“That’s far less interesting.”

Glen spun at the unexpected voice. He found himself unable to bring his gun to bear in time, Buffy having followed her remark up with a sprint inside the room, and a full body tackle. With the redhead on the ground, his gun bouncing away, Elizabeth shifted her own attention towards Carrie.

The fifty year old Carrie stepped towards one of the other weapons on the floor, then seemed to think better of it as Bernard made a similar dive. For a moment, Elizabeth sensed her future self trying to establish a temporal freezing field. She nullified Carrie’s efforts.

With that, Carrie charged out of the nearest available exit. The one that led down into the displacement room below. “What, are you trying to escape?” Elizabeth shouted. “If you think you’re so superior to me, PROVE it!” She chased after herself.

***

Buffy beat her fists into Glen’s side, smacked him about the head, and tried to knee him in uncomfortable places. “Why?” she shrieked. “Why didn’t you make me into a better person? WHY?!”

“Stop! Carrie, I’ve been trying to help,” Glen answered, trying to protect his body while simultaneously attempting to push her off of him. “Besides, that’s still in our future, I haven’t even done anything yet. Stop, I haven’t done it yet!”

“Eliz– err, Buffy, we got this,” Bernard said.

Buffy stopped herself, breathing hard, and noticing that Bernard was now holding a gun on the both of them. Amelia was rounding up the rest of the weapons, moving them to the corner, out of reach, and Anthony was approaching with some rope.

Buffy pushed herself back, rising again to her feet. “Right.” She eyed Glen. “I forgive you too. That said, you try any more of your mental tricks here? Things will not end well for you.”

Anthony began to tie Glen up.

Bernard inclined his head towards the exit. “Buffy, go help yourself.”

“Just a second,” Buffy said, straightening her blouse. “You’ll need the code to turn off the lockdown here, so the resistance can get in.”

“I’ll never give that up,” Glen assured them.

“You won’t have to,” Buffy noted. “Seeing as you entered it into the system, in this room, maybe five minutes ago.” She allowed the time streams to coalesce about her, and after carefully anchoring herself in the present, she slid back to see what the necessary computer input was.

***

Elizabeth supposed that she should have expected her future self to ambush her as soon as she charged through the sliding door into the displacement room. And yet, she hadn’t anticipated it, and as such she had the wind knocked out of her as the two of them then fell on the ground in a flurry of arms and legs. Elizabeth tried to kick out at her counterpart, but the fifty year old had the advantage of leverage – and of course, a future her would knew most of her moves. Or her expected moves, anyway.

Elizabeth reached out and yanked hard on Carrie’s long hair.

“Yeow!” Carrie screeched. “What, are you in grade school?”

“I was going to say the same,” Elizabeth shot back. “Why won’t you let me play in your sandbox?”

“My God, I’m so immature,” Carrie groaned.

Carrie still seemed temporally weak, but Elizabeth fast realized that where Carrie was holding onto her, her arm was going numb. The feeling was spreading up and into the rest of her body. That wasn’t good. But Elizabeth couldn’t seem to squirm free, she couldn’t seem to… oh. Wait. Duh.

Her eyes flickered to gold, and she slipped back in time thirty seconds. After rolling to the side, she then rejoined the present, in time to see Carrie face plant into the floor as her prior self disappeared. Elizabeth quickly pushed herself back up onto her feet, rolling her shoulder to try and regain the feeling in that arm. There was no point in her tackling the prone Carrie – this battle wasn’t going to be won physically.

Sure enough, Carrie had soon risen to her feet as well. “I guess I should be glad that I’m finally displaying half a brain,” she remarked.

“This won’t be like it was in Miami, Carrie,” Elizabeth declared. “I’m no longer that vulnerable girl. I’m ready for you.”

“Ha! Sure you are. Considering less than an hour has passed for us since then, I’m hardly shaking in my boots.”

“Weirdly enough, it feels to me like mama’s disappearance happened a lifetime ago. Despite you being the old maid here.”

Carrie snorted. “Oh, stop. You must know you cannot possibly win?”

“I don’t know that at all.”

“I’m YOU!”

“And yet… you seem unsure.”

“While you seem weak.”

Carrie brought her arm up, and Elizabeth realized too late that her future counterpart had been readying a charge of temporal energy. It hit her with enough force to launch her back into the far wall of the room, and it was all she could do to avoid getting herself pushed out of the present, and a few seconds into the future.

Carrie could have prepared a finishing blow in those few seconds.

Elizabeth slid to the floor, ending up in a seated position. “You know,” she wheezed, “I should really look into this masochistic streak I seem to have.”

“Stop talking,” Carrie said. Her eyes flickered over completely to gold, and she fired off another blast of energy.

Elizabeth snapped her arms up. She’d anticipated Carrie’s move this time, but all she’d been able to think of as a counter-move was to try and freeze time in her immediate vicinity. Rookie mistake – the blast was still moving for her, albeit much more slowly, and now she’d never be able to speed up her own time to dodge it. Not without releasing the freezing field and being hit.

Carrie laughed. “I am such a…”

Elizabeth never found out what Carrie thought she was, because right before the temporal blast could reach her, it was struck from the side by a counter-blast of temporal energy, sending the whole sparking assembly careening off to the side. It impacted the wall, a chunk of the panelling vanishing completely into the streams of time.

“Sorry I’m late,” Buffy said from the doorway, lowering her arms. “Bunch of things cropping up at the last moment. You know how it is.”

“Not as such, but I guess I’ll know soon enough,” Elizabeth said. She pushed herself back to her feet. “Thanks, Buffy.”

“No problem.”

Carrie jerked her gaze back and forth between both versions. “At least you’re making this interesting,” Carrie acknowledged. “But even with two of you, you still have only a primitive understanding of our power.”

“We’re fast learners,” Elizabeth noted. She allowed the power to wash over her then, tentatively embracing the sensations, knowing that her own eyes were flicking to gold – and yet allowing it to happen. After all, she would become Buffy, right? She would maintain control.

“Fine,” Carrie snarled. “Let’s do this. But first, I’ll make sure we have no interference from your friends up there.”

She fired off two more pulses of temporal energy. Two wall panels were temporally banished in their wake – along with whatever was behind them, if the sparking was any indication. A klaxon sounded briefly, and the door to the room slid closed, along with blast shields slamming down over the observation windows above.

Elizabeth frowned, as a burn mark also appeared on the wall, spreading out from one of the missing panels. And whereas at first, the dark scorching had looked like it would follow a single path, it very quickly radiated out, looking more like a trident or a tree branch. Multiple paths. For some reason, that felt significant.

Elizabeth was so distracted by the image that she didn’t even notice the huge tree trunk that came hurtling at her moments later.

***

“Damn. We’re cut off,” Bernard remarked, as the blast shields dropped into place, blocking their view of the three Carries down below.

Anthony glanced sidelong at Bernard. He was now holding the weapon on Glen, as they had determined that it was an energy pulse set to stun. So it’s not like he was about to fill the Temporal full of holes if Glen tried anything. “Can y-you undo that?”

Bernard shook his head. “Doubt it. Carrie probably fried the hardware.”

“Wouldn’t there be sensors in that room or something?” Amelia guessed.

“Maybe,” Bernard yielded. “But I don’t know how to turn them on. So aside from having shut off of the lockdown, there’s not much more I can do. Aside from watch the progress of the resistance, which is what Glen had calibrated the system for.”

“I won’t help you,” Glen said.

Bernard sighed. “No one even asked you for help.”

“You’re only making this harder on yourselves,” Glen continued. “And harder on Carrie too. You need to surrender now, it’s the only way that girl can have a happy childhood! That’s her ONLY chance, you understand me, you Mundane morons? The ONLY way that you can still live out your dull, pathetic lives, is to give up. So that we can fix Carrie’s mind, retrain her, such that she doesn’t remember how one day she will–”

Anthony fired, and Glen slumped to the ground, out cold.

“Tim!” Amelia gasped.

He looked over at his friends and smiled weakly. “It occurred to me that he might be using his mental power more subtly. To w-wear us down. W-We’re all tired of being manipulated, yeah? W-We didn’t need him conscious… right?”

Bernard grinned back. “Good point. Wish I’d thought of that myself.” He turned back to the monitors. “I think Luci’s forces will be here in less than five minutes. They can help us out.”

“Weirdly enough, I don’t think Elizabeth has that kind of time,” Amelia sighed, looking again towards the blocked windows.

***

Buffy tackled Elizabeth in the nick of time, the tree trunk flying over their heads and slamming into the wall. Elizabeth snapped her gaze over towards the huge object. “Whoa! Where the hell did that come from?” she gasped.

“When the hell,” Buffy corrected breathlessly, continuing their roll across the floor. “Reverse banishment, that was a something Carrie knew about, which could be manifested from somewhen.” A mist began to appear within the room, making it harder for them to see. “Takes hella energy and concentration though, so I’d say we’re good for at least another ten seconds.”

“You will become me!” Carrie shrieked from within the growing fog. “I’m starting to feel these events in my past now.”

“Not good.” Buffy swallowed. “Look, Elizabeth, this is where we part ways. I need to strategize.”

“Oh. Pity. It’s been fun,” Elizabeth said weakly. She pushed herself back up off the floor. “I don’t suppose you can come up with a way of dispelling this mist first?”

“Actually, I’m creating it,” Buffy admitted, her golden eyes glowing. “So that it’s harder for Carrie to target. Remember from geography, the foggiest place on Earth, just off Newfoundland?”

Elizabeth blinked. “We’ve already figured out how to reverse banish?”

“Kinda? I’ve had some time to consider, since I told myself about the ability, and fog’s basically air. I really want to turn my concentration back to our Ultimate Paradox though. Okay?”

“Understood.” Elizabeth clasped herself by the shoulder. “Thank you.”

“Thank YOU,” Buffy said. “You’re the one who will soon give yourself the key card, after all.”

Elizabeth chuckled, then pulled Buffy back down as another huge tree flew through the fog towards them. “Right, that’s got to stop.” She exhaled. “Okay, here goes nothing.”

Launching herself forwards, Elizabeth charged through the fog towards her future self. And, to the increasing annoyance of the temporal powers she tended to keep locked away, away from her destiny.

So her powers began to push back.

*

NEXT: The Ultimate Paradox

ASIDE: It all ends with Part 96. Maybe you see how at this point? I’ll be splintering the end of Book 4 into three posts, for a couple reasons. One of them is to give me a transitional week, as the site returns to “Epsilon Project”. Until then, the usual vote for T&T, if you please?

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