Chartreuse

5.03: Cabinet Shuffle

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CHANCED ERASURES: PART THREE

For Chartreuse, blending in was relative. It’s not like she went out of her way to stand out, but at this school in particular, she sensed she was a little different than the others. And not merely due to the neon red stockings she was wearing, or the fact that she didn’t want to drink the purple milk that seemed to be on sale. Maybe it was her mannerisms, or the way her increasingly queasy stomach made it hard to smile?

Fortunately, most of the others in the cafeteria were focussed on eating or socializing with their own friends, only tending to give her a quizzical look. The one time someone had approached her with a snark, Chartreuse had been defended by someone with a bright flower in their hair – someone else seeking loopholes in the school uniform, apparently. Chartreuse had murmured a thanks and moved on.

CHARTREUSE VERMILION
Commission by Ruuari

Unfortunately, the few conversations Chartreuse had been able to overhear were of no use towards her mission of tracking down Alice. She finally retreated to the library and sat quietly until she felt better.

“It’s not like my results were of any more use,” Para reassured, after they’d reunited at the end of the school day. “If the faculty know anything about recent dimensional encroachments or the Clover Club doing strange activities, they don’t talk about it openly.”

“You were, you know, able to get the room key though,” Chartreuse pointed out. “That’s something.”

Para smiled sheepishly. “One key fits all, as long as you know the morphing codes. We’re simply lucky they were updating the codes today.”

“Mmmm.” Chartreuse’s gaze drifted to the sky. “Unless the update matches, like, security upgrades from Alice coming here,” Chartreuse said, crossing her arms. She sighed. “At least my insides have quietened down.”

“You’re sure it’s more than just nerves? That the ring artifact’s not doing it’s job properly at acclimating you?” Para pressed.

Chartreuse shrugged. “Makes, like, the most sense. Anyway, the library was, you know, a nice place for down time too. Not many people in the stacks, they all just, like, e-book themselves or whatever. Hey, did you know this school was built on a burial ground?”

Para frowned. “No. That seems ominous.”

“History section seemed like it’d be helpful,” Chartreuse said, grinning. She produced a couple of paper books. “We might as well do some more light reading until it’s time to meet that Sam guy.”

Para nodded. “Okay.” The 8pm statue meeting could only have meant the statue of the school’s founder, a guy named Fenduro. “They do lock the building up after 9pm,” Para added. “So hopefully it doesn’t take long to find a lead.”

The two of them settled in to catch up on the local history and customs. Chartreuse didn’t find any mention of clovers.

***

When they reached the statue, they were met not only by Sam Depas, but also two other students. A girl with short, dark hair that Sam introduced as Sue Morts, and a tall boy with red hair who proudly proclaimed that he was Sir Thred.

“These are the two loons who convinced you to go up against the gifties, huh?” Sue said scornfully as she sized up Chartreuse and Para. “Seriously, we’d be SO much better off looking for evidence of corruption in the gym. There’s no WAY they buy that equipment on their budget.”

“Hey, what Sam says goes, the guy’s a genius,” Thred objected. “And the people who read his newsletter are counting on him.”

Sue simply rolled her eyes, realizing she’d be outvoted if she pushed her point. She looked sidelong again towards Para. Chartreuse decided that Sue was going to be the one to keep an eye on; Thred mostly had eyes for Sam.

Sam knotted his tie a little tighter. “Yes, well, if the Clover Club room doesn’t work, there’s still time to look elsewhere,” he asserted. “You two have the key?”

Para simply nodded.

“Okay then,” Sam said, taking a few steps towards the building.

“Ugh. Well, if you persist in your stubbornness, let’s at least go on a route that minimizes the chance of running into the automated janitor algorithms,” Sue said, jerking her thumb the other way.

Chartreuse blinked. “How do you know the janitor routes this late in the day?”

“Because my dad’s a janitor,” Sue shot back. And Chartreuse honestly couldn’t tell if that was a snark, or the truth. She’d thought ‘janitor algorithms’ meant they were artificial intelligences. Unless this was a world where AIs could give birth? After all, that holographic Beam girl had seemed pretty real…

“Good idea,” Sam said, quickly placing himself between the two girls. “Lead the way, Sue.”

Sam’s dark haired friend at least knew what she was talking about, as they had no issues reaching what Chartreuse divined to be the club area of the school, or the door of the Clover Club. The big four leaf clover on the door being something of a tip-off. After looking at the door number, Para tapped a combination into the device in her hand, and the end morphed into a key, which she inserted into the keyhole and turned.

The lock clicked open.

“Weiiiird. I’m surprised the gifties don’t have a better electronic lock,” Thred mused, leaning in to regard the mechanism as Para moved out of the way. “Like, with two factor authentication or something.”

“Which could trap anyone inside during a power failure?” Sue said. “I mean, have you forgotten what happened last time the weather grid went haywire? Not to mention the hacking issues if every individual club member had the access key…”

“Fine, fine,” Thred said, raising his hands. “Just, it seemed a bit too easy.”

“We did recruit someone on the inside,” Sam pointed out, motioning to Para.

“And if it helps, I do have, like, an uneasy feeling,” Chartreuse piped up. “Though it’s specific to Sir Thred.” She’d almost missed it, being so focussed on Sue, but he’d chanced to bump her slightly when stepping back from the lock.

Thred turned to look at her. “Is that good?”

Chartreuse tried to smile back. “No?” It had been hard to pinpoint. She wondered if she should have bothered to mention it.

“I’d have thought you needed to throw crystals at him or something, giftie,” Sue said, glaring.

Before Chartreuse could respond, Sam sighed. “Oh, stop. Look, anyone is welcome to stay out here, I’m going to at least pace the room, to see if it matches what the blueprints say.” He reached out to push the door open, then paused and looked back at Para.

Sensing Sam’s need for verification, Para reached out to open the door herself. Nothing happened.

Sam walked in and clicked on the light. “No one touch anything.”

The room looked like a typical club room, as far as Chartreuse could tell. There was a table in the middle with some chairs around it, a cabinet against the side wall that seemed to have it’s own lock, a video screen on the wall next to the door, an access point for a computer system on the table, and a few clovers posted up on the walls.

If this was the headquarters of an organization dedicated to inter-dimensional shenanigans, they weren’t being overt about it.

“Never easy,” Chartreuse murmured. As Sam paced the room taking occasional photos, with Thred and Para hanging back by the door and Sue ignoring Sam’s advice by moving the chairs to peer under the table, Chartreuse turned her attention to the cabinet. She knew there was probably no chance of opening the lock, but there was something tickling at her senses…

“The floor,” Para murmured.

Chartreuse saw it then. Scuff marks, as if someone had tried to move the cabinet to the side. She bent down to examine them, aware of Sue coming up next to her to look as well.

“Secret passage behind this?” Sue muttered.

Sam joined them. “Doubt it. The room sizing checks out. Unless there’s some sort of warp field back there, they probably just made a mess redecorating in here.”

“I dunno,” Chartreuse murmured. She reached into her stocking to pull out a small piece of quartz. Normally she’d need meditation for a future reading, but if there was enough of a vibe at the location… holding the crystal flat in her palm, she felt an urge to move her hand to the side. It gravitated towards one of the screws holding the cabinet together.

“What the heck is she–”

“Shhh,” Sam murmured, cutting Sue off.

Chartreuse pushed the screw. Which apparently wasn’t a screw at all, but a button, as it gave in. With a click, the cabinet slid slowly across the floor towards them, over the scuffed area. Thred led out a low whistle. Sue humphed, muttering, “Bet she’s a member of the Clover Club and knew about that all along.”

Sam went to the other side of the cabinet, to see what the movement had revealed. As Chartreuse replaced the quartz and came to join him in his crouch, she saw that the wall didn’t show anything resembling a passage. Merely a strange symbol, then the letter “R”, a room number, and a string of digits.

“That would be the room number for security,” Sam remarked. “Possibly with a valid combination to get us access. Impressive.”

“Oh, daaamn,” Thred said, jerking his gaze around the room. “Is the Clover Club spying on people? Are we being video recorded in here? Do we need to go there to erase the hologrid?!”

Sam pushed himself back to his feet. “That room’s definitely our next stop. Unlike the roof, I could never crack that code, and if there is a secret room linked to this Club, we’re sure to see it monitored there. We can also erase our presence from any recordings, if we chance to see them.”

“We are never getting to the gym,” Sue moaned.

Chartreuse and Para exchanged a glance. They both shrugged. If there was a way of locating Alice, being inside the school’s security room seemed like the best plan, so they might as well continue to play along.

***

The string of digits worked with Para’s key morph device, and gave them immediate access. Sam opened the door for the security room cautiously, half expecting a guard, but everything was automated. To a degree.

“Someone’s coming by here in about 20 minutes for a check, if I’m reading this sign-in sheet correctly,” Thred remarked, looking at the form next to the door.

“Okay,” Sam asserted. “Sue, you look at that bank of video monitors, see if you spot any room you don’t recognize, or any area that you should see, and don’t. Thred, have a look around for anything the Clover Club might be secretly doing in here, including a way of recording anyone being in their room. I’ll look through these file cabinets for any documents to photograph. And Chartreuse, you and your friend…”

“I totally need to view this disc,” Chartreuse broke in. Without even using the quartz, her eye had been drawn to what she recognized from her library readings was a holo-disc that had been left on the small end table underneath the sign-in form. She reached over and held it up so that Para could see the label, which simply read “Alice”.

WHAT’S NEXT?
(Along with more school exploration, so feel free to suggest an area they should go to next by commenting or tweeting!)

VOTING CLOSES NOON EDT WEDNESDAY AUG 15th

Previous INDEX 5 Next

PATHS NOT TAKEN:
The vampire faculty would have avoided the time skip, looking a bit more at actual professors with Para to flesh out that rumour. There might have been an added religious angle too (for crosses and holy water). The ghost rumour would have jumped to 8pm as this entry did, but we’d be looking at more of a supernatural story, perhaps with a possession in the club room. The winner being the mystery room, we got more technological, with this secret chamber/treasure hunt story. Please do spread the word, the votes are close, I will not object to you telling your friends to come and back you up on your choices!

EXTRA ASIDE:
Sorry for the two day delay in posting; the voting period will still be about 8 days, as normal. The good news is it’s because I was spending the end of July doing more with “Time Untied”, finally concluding the pivotal scene I left hanging back in December (I’d done more edits in the meantime). Meanwhile, my 7-week-old daughter tends to take priority over everything else… I can only handle one creative endeavour in a day. In vaguely related news, I got my first 2018 coins recently, in late July (dimes). Followed by a loonie late last week. Thanks for reading!

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5.02: Room – or has it?

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CHANCED ERASURES: PART TWO

Para was nervous. It wasn’t so much that she was around humans again, given how the time spent on missions with Alijda had involved several such encounters, it was more that the humans in this case were teenagers. And the personified parabola hadn’t interacted much with them, only knowing that many were forced to learn quadratics, and weren’t necessarily that fond of her, at least mathematically.

Fortunately, Chartreuse seemed fine with the situation, so Para decided to take most of her cues from the pink-haired girl who was leading the mission. Para rather hoped that the boy who emerged onto the school roof moments after their arrival would prove to be equally as easygoing.

“Aw, man, someone else figured out how to get up here?” the kid remarked.

He looked to be the same age as Chartreuse, meaning he’d be in his last year at this Multidimensional Academy. Or possibly part of their extended gifted program. Admittedly, from what Beam had been able to discern, everyone at this institution was gifted in some way, but the curriculum had some classes beyond the scope of what anyone might consider to be normal fare.

Actually, maybe these would be teenagers who liked parabolas after all?

“We’re pro,” Chartreuse answered. “But we, you know, won’t tell if you won’t.” She grinned back at him and winked.

PARA
Commission by Michelle Simpson

The boy was definitely a student, at the least, because he was wearing the blue blazer and tie for the school. Chartreuse herself had yielded to the necessity of blending in, and was similarly dressed, along with a pleated green/blue skirt to match the tie, and a set of sensible shoes. Only Para had been allowed to keep her usual attire of a pinkish skirt with the bow around her neck, under her guise as an educational assistant.

Chartreuse had insisted on one exception though, which the boy was now looking at. “Those stockings aren’t regulation,” he said, raising a finger to point at the neon red fabric adorning Chartreuse’s legs. The colour did match the large bow in her hair. “Are you even a student here?”

Chartreuse crossed her arms. “How could I, like, be here, and in the rest of this ridiculous getup if I wasn’t? Unless you’re, you know, implying that I’m a ghost haunting the school or something.”

His gaze returned to Chartreuse’s face after that. “Oh, you’ve heard those rumours too? Nice!” He stuck out his hand, as if to shake. “I’m Sam Simmons. I think we might get along fine.”

Chartreuse stuck out her hand too. “Chartreuse Vermilion,” she said, glancing down at his palm as they shook. “And the educational assistant with me is Para.”

Para lifted her hand in a little wave. Sam released Chartreuse and turned closer attention to her.

“Okay, I’ll bite. What’s with the bunny ears?” he asked after a moment of scrutiny.

“They tell whether my depression is at a minimum or a maximum,” Para answered automatically.

Sam blinked. “Whether your… oh, OH, I get it. You help out THOSE gifted people.” He looked back at Chartreuse. “I suppose you’re one of them? Maybe that’s why I haven’t seen either of you around so far. You get the special classes.”

Para also looked back towards Chartreuse, not entirely sure whether they should agree to that option. Chartreuse simply beamed. “As long as you don’t mean that as a slur, sure, that’s totally it!”

Sam winced. “Right. Foot meet mouth. Sorry, I failed the test to work elsewhere in the multiverse, and I guess my friends and I see your type as their own exclusive club.”

“Oh, no offence taken,” Chartreuse assured. “Honestly, I don’t know most of the other gifted types in those classes myself.”

Sam nodded. “Hey, so, uh, what was your otherworld aptitude identified as?”

Chartreuse pursed her lips. “Euh, crystals.”

Sam hesitated, but seemed to take that in stride. “Interesting. So was Para getting you to use your crystals to access the roof? Or is it not off limits for you gifties?”

“Para was doing something like that,” Chartreuse said, coughing. “But let’s, you know, get back to those rumours. Because it’s something we have in common. Like, is your ghost story the same one that I’ve, you know, heard about?”

Sam shrugged. “Beats me. Which one had you heard?”

Para noticed Chartreuse begin fidgeting with the crystal around her neck. “Oh, you know. The… one… about… the…“ She gestured, but Sam didn’t seem about to jump in and finish her sentence. “Uh, the person from the other world who, like, came to campus,” Chartreuse finished at last.

Sam nodded. “Right. She was caught and killed, and now roams the halls looking for a way home? Same story then, no surprise.” He frowned. “Chartreuse, are you okay?”

Para took a step closer to Chartreuse, whose eyes had gone wide. “Chartreuse is not keen on the whole ‘killed’ aspect of that story,” Para explained, off Chartreuse’s continuing silence. And Para wasn’t really thrilled it it herself, if it was at all indicative of Alice’s fate. Or their own.

Sam rolled his eyes. “Fine, fine, I suppose as the tale goes the otherworlder was ‘erased’ from existing. The moral of the story being that we don’t want any outsiders taking our advanced technology back with them. After all, who knows what sort of trouble that would cause, yeah?” He chuckled.

Chartreuse found her voice again. “Y-Yeah! But wait. Do you, like, believe it happened or not? Because earlier you seemed interested in ghosts, but now you’re, you know, dismissive.”

Sam gestured vaguely. “I love all urban legends. Doesn’t mean I necessarily believe every one of them. I mean, consider the story about some of the faculty being vampires. How that’s the reason for their youthfulness, and not de-aging treatments at all. I can appreciate the detail put into something like that without thinking it’s true.” He frowned again. “Do you believe all the rumours?”

Chartreuse toyed with her crystal. “I like to keep an open mind,” she murmured. “I mean, hey, surely there’s some rumours with a basis in fact. Don’t you think?”

Sam nodded. “Point. The idea that there’s some mystery room in this school, only accessible to those who are worthy? That strikes me as legit.” He leaned in a bit. “Maybe it’s even a secret door from inside your Clover Club’s meeting room. Hmm?”

Chartreuse blinked. “Clover Club?”

“Related to your otherworld gifted status,” Para murmured, deducing what Sam had implied. Though ‘clover’ also reminded her of what she’d read in the mission briefing, about what Alice and Beam had been investigating in the first place. Perhaps they’d stumbled onto something here.

“Are you not a member? I thought all of you giftie types were members,” Sam said, crossing his arms and eyeing her suspiciously.

Chartreuse glanced to the left and right. Para thought maybe she was looking for an escape, but then the pink haired girl leaned towards Sam, wiggling her eyebrows. “Promise not to tell anyone?” she whispered. “There’s, like, actually four clubs. Clovers, Diamonds, Hearts and Spades. I’m in Diamonds.”

Sam’s arms fell back to his sides. “Get out. You have secret clubs? Why don’t they all have club rooms?”

Chartreuse winked. “The meeting times and places are, you know, randomized.”

Sam peered closer at her. “Are you playing me?”

Chartreuse merely smiled and clasped her own hands behind her back. “Believe whichever rumours you, you know, like. But know that I’m totally as curious about the Clover group as you are. That’s fact.”

Sam’s gaze shifted from Chartreuse to Para to the surroundings before returning. “Hmmm. Okay then. If your EA works with all types, can she get us into the Clover Club room after dark tonight? Because that might tell you more about them while giving me a real scoop for my newsletter.”

So Sam had a newsletter? Para supposed that it made sense, given his interest in urban legends. How typical of a student was he? She hoped that they’d be able to check into his records before getting too deeply involved. Plus, this was at it’s heart, a surveillance mission only. No need to invite trouble.

“She, you know, might be able to,” Chartreuse answered enthusiastically, before Para could suggest otherwise.

Sam grinned. “Great. A couple of us will be by the statue at 8pm tonight. After that incident on campus a couple days ago, they’re focussed more on external security than internal. It’s a great time to do some explorations.”

Chartreuse exchanged a quick glance with Para. “Oooh, right, the incident. What do you, like, know about that?”

Sam gestured vaguely. “Only that I’m sure it’s not as big of a deal as they made it out to be. So, are you in?”

“We’ll see,” Para answered, before Chartreuse could speak. “This does seem highly irregular.”

Sam again looked them over, then nodded. “Well, doesn’t matter, I have a story either way. You two seem like the types who buck the status quo is all.” With another look at Chartreuse’s bright stockings, he turned away. “So, I came up here to check something about the school layout. See you ‘round, I hope?”

Without looking back, Sam walked over towards the fence at the edge of the roof. It was seemingly there to prevent anyone from falling, which seemed to Para to be an odd thing to have, if the roof was off limits. Though it could be standard on all buildings in the city.

Chartreuse motioned towards the door that Sam had come out of, and Para followed her through it.

“Sweet!” Chartreuse said, as soon as they were in the stairwell and out of earshot. She made a victory sign in the air. “We’ve already got a seriously solid lead on Alice, what with this clover group.”

Para nodded. “I don’t have a key to their room though.”

Chartreuse waved her off. “Yet! Think positive. You were going to go and check out the teachers lounge or whatever, while I, like, went to the cafeteria. Maybe they’ve got some master keys in there. We can’t, you know, lose out on the prospect of Alice being held in some secret room that was erased from school records!”

Para supposed that there was something to be said for truth within a rumour – Fractal City had really existed in the mathematical network where she originated, after all – but Chartreuse seemed to be jumping the gun a little.

“For all we know, the ghost rumour is true instead, and being perpetuated with advanced holograms,” she observed. “Plus the longer we’re here, the greater the chance of being discovered, particularly with your neon stockings.”

“Which is all the more reason to investigate tonight,” Chartreuse insisted. “Our names are in the database for, like, at least the next 24 hours, and you know, for the record, the student handbook Beam found didn’t, like, specify clothing accessories. I gotta be me.”

“I’m just saying,” Para said, feeling the bunny ears on her hairband twitch. “Maybe us splitting up is a bad idea after all. Since I might be able to deflect student interest in you. And you might be able to bluff people better than me.”

Chartreuse lifted her arms up, smiling. “Oh, no worries there, I’ll be interesting to people no matter what. And if anything, you know, goes wrong, one of us fires off the record of everything to Epsilon, and they’ll pull us out.”

Para hesitated, but Chartreuse was the person in charge. Maybe this was more about her being nervous about teachers, for that matter – what if some of THEM didn’t like quadratics! “Okay. Meet again in a couple hours back here?”

Chartreuse nodded. “Oh, and I’ll tell you this before we, like, split – I got a bit of a sensation off of Sam. Like, the guy’s hiding something, but he was genuine in terms of not seeing us as a threat.” She glanced at her ring. “That is, assuming this thing’s actually working the way it should to, you know, calibrate my abilities.”

Para wasn’t exactly comforted, but it’s not like she could change the situation. Wishing Chartreuse luck, the two Epsilon Project members went their separate ways.

WHAT’S NEXT?

VOTING CLOSES MIDNIGHT EDT SUNDAY JULY 29th

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PATHS NOT TAKEN:
The choice of school was mostly a matter of whether Chartreuse would fit in. In a religious school, they would have stuck out, and not even been clear on the techno-deity being worshipped. In an all girls school, they would have blended right in, and there might have been romantic entanglements (also Sam would be female). Gifted school was somewhere in the middle, blending in, but with some suspicions. Note that a tied vote would have doubled things up (and likely had a second person with Sam). A reminder that your votes really do matter, please do spread the word!

5.01: Taken

<-To Story 4 INDEX 5 Next

CHANCED ERASURES: PART ONE

Whenever a pay phone rang near Chartreuse, she answered it. Given the number of people who tended to use pay phones in the modern age, chances were good that the incoming call was not normal, but rather, connected to her in some mystic way. This time was no exception.

“Hello, like, Chartreuse speaking,” the pink haired teenager declared into the receiver.

“Hi,” the mystery female voice responded. “Epsilon Project here… can we summon you? Through a door or whatever? Is now a good time?”

Chartreuse frowned. “Not really? When you called my house this morning, I said around 4pm would be, you know, good. D’you need me earlier?”

“Oh! No, but I only just started synching with your world. I’ll go back and make that call now. Thanks.”

Chartreuse peered at the phone. “Is this, like, a prank? Did Carrie put you up to this?”

The woman had already hung up. Chartreuse slowly replaced the phone into its cradle, glancing around the parking lot of the local cafe. There didn’t seem to be anyone paying attention to her. More to the point, the female on the other end of the line had sounded like the same woman who had called before, and the ‘Epsilon Project’ was a weird extra-dimensional association – so perhaps it was legit?

Yeah, it probably was. Carrie wasn’t the type of girlfriend who would use her time travel abilities for something silly like this. Besides, only Chartreuse and her sister Azure even knew about ‘Epsilon’, from the affair two weeks ago. Alas, Chartreuse supposed she should have asked for more details during the first call, but her mom had wanted her to do a reading on the future, after which she’d planned on meeting Carrie for lunch.

Ah well. It was generally better to tackle the unknown at the end of a day regardless, versus first thing in the morning. That way you weren’t exhausted all day after dealing with it – you could go to bed.

“I’ll, you know, figure this out at 4pm,” Chartreuse declared aloud, the vocalization helping to push the Epsilon stuff out of her mind.

CHARTREUSE VERMILION
Commission by Ruuari

Smoothing her hands down over her multicoloured dress, she continued on her way from her lunch date towards the library, to meet up with Lee. He’d turned up some information about Ottawa, which Chartreuse figured would be useful for when she and Carrie went to University in September.

It was a little after 4pm when Chartreuse remembered about the call. Still being a couple of blocks from her house, she walked over to a nearby parked car instead. It had doors, right? Finding the back unlocked, she opened it and got inside.

Nothing happened. Which included no one coming and asking her to get out of their car, so there was that.

After glancing around the interior, Chartreuse shrugged and got back out… only to now find herself standing in the large embarkation room of the Epsilon Project station. Shaped like a cylinder, the room had a set of computer banks on one portion of the curved wall, and it was there that a woman was standing. Her long blonde hair was pulled into a side ponytail, and she wore a plain black blouse, with a white skirt and thigh-high dark stockings.

“Hi!” Chartreuse chirped. “I thought you’d, you know, forgotten about me.”

The woman turned and smiled wryly. “No, but part of the point for the advance call was so you wouldn’t use a random door,” she remarked. “I realized I needed to recalibrate. Maybe this is why Alice always summoned people without bothering to warn them?”

“Oh. Oops?” Chartreuse glanced around. “Where is Alice anyway?”

The woman sighed and took a step closer. “Excellent question. That is, in fact, why you’re here. She and Beam were on a mission, and Alice was captured. My name is Fate, by the way, I’m currently in charge.”

Chartreuse widened her eyes. “Meaning you’ll need us to, like, go on a rescue mission?”

Fate shook her head. “More like a surveillance mission.” She pressed a finger to her cheek. “Though it might become a rescue mission? Eh, I suppose we’ll see what happens.”

Chartreuse nodded, then glanced around the room again. “So is Simon here?”

Fate blinked. “Who? Oh, wait, of course, the gentleman from your recruitment drive. No, retrieving him would be rather more complicated, and you’re well suited for what we want. Though if you want him on your team, that might be possible.”

Chartreuse clasped her hands. “I get a, like, team? Wow! And you’ve called for me owing to my ability to, you know, seamlessly blend into the background??”

“Eh heh. More like your ability to pick up impressions and read the future,” Fate remarked, scratching her forehead. “Leading the mission is voluntary though. Let’s go and have Beam fill you in. She’s down in the infirmary.”

***

Beam turned out to be a blonde girl in white dress, whom Fate introduced as being a sentient hologram. For her part, Chartreuse was becoming disconcerted by the number of pretty blondes she was encountering. At least they seemed a little too old for her to visualize them in a romantic way. Not that she’d ever consider cheating on Carrie, but it had the potential to be distracting.

“Did you hear what I said?” Beam asked, arcing an eyebrow.

“Hm? Oh, for sure,” Chartreuse said. “This project’s only lead on people who might be, you know, spreading dimensional knowledge was this mystery clover shape. You, like, followed up by going to a database from a way advanced reality, but, you know, got caught while trying to download information.”

Beam sat up a little in bed, but not so much as to jar the cable that was seemingly plugged into her blue hairband. She turned to look at Fate. “Girl’s smarter than she looks and sounds,” Beam remarked. “Is she single?”

“No, I am NOT,” Chartreuse said, a little louder than she’d intended. She quickly turned her own attention to Fate. “So when do I, like, pick my team?”

“Hold on,” Fate soothed. “Let Beam finish her story.”

Chartreuse looked back, to see Beam grinning. “Pardon my programming. Thing is, I got away from the place with enough information to hack the system. I can make you a member of this place’s academy, along with one other individual. You can decide who that will be.”

Chartreuse pursed her lips. “And so I, like, run around and try to learn as much as I can about what they’re doing, whether they’re connected to your clover people, and, you know, what happened to Alice?”

“Essentially,” Fate agreed. “We’d send Beam herself, but they might be able to detect her again, after what happened.”

“Um.” Chartreuse picked a random spot on the ceiling to look at as she rocked her body up onto her tiptoes and back down. “Seems harmless enough? Do I get, like, extra hazard pay?”

“I… oh.” Fate looked at Beam. “Wait, does the Project… pay people?”

“Not really,” Beam said. “Only in adventure, a better life, favours to be named later kind of deal. Or that’s how I understood it.”

Fate looked back at Chartreuse, rubbing the back of her neck. “No? You can back out though, if it’s a real issue. Or just not be the leader.”

Chartreuse refocussed, then smiled. “It’s fine. I should probably get more experience with crazy things anyway, given the direction my life has taken. So, I get to buddy with one other person out there?”

Fate nodded, and Beam added, “One thing I might suggest?”

“Sure,” Chartreuse chirped.

“Not Alijda, also known as Alison. Her close personal ties could be an issue. And I’m not only saying that because of how I made things awkward with Rose.”

Chartreuse adjusted one of the bows in her hair. “Since I don’t know who that is, or what you’re talking about, sure. Actually, someone logical would, you know, probably be a good counterpoint to me – got anyone in mind there, Fate?”

Fate half smiled. “Possibly. How do you feel about personified mathematics?”

Chartreuse was pretty sure that, despite her best efforts, she’d somehow lost the thread of the conversation. “Personified what now?”

Fate turned. “Let’s pull up her file, and if you’re okay with it, call her in.”

***

“So you’re a, like, personified parabola,” Chartreuse said slowly.

Para reached up with her hands to adjust the bunny ears on her hairband. She was another blonde, because of course she was. At least her pink dress seemed normal enough. “For the third time, yes?” the woman replied.

“Okay. Just, you know, still wrapping my head around it.” Chartreuse forced herself to change the topic. “Do you know any more about this advanced reality we’re going to than I do then? Like, math-wise?”

Para shook her head. “I only know what we both read in that report. There’s some sort of academy for multidimensional education, and they don’t like unauthorized people snooping around. But that Beam girl can give us IDs, and I’m pretty good at doing calculations on the fly, if need be.”

Chartreuse fingered the pendant hanging around her neck. “Right. Well, I know a thing or two about crystals, if that, you know, comes up.”

“We’re set then!” Para said, clasping her hands together. “I hope we can be friends.”

Chartreuse grinned. “Me too.” The bunny girl was nice enough, after all.

“Okay, I’m coming down,” came Fate’s voice from the circular opening in the ceiling. With a click, the gravity temporarily switched off, Fate bobbing down to join them back in the circular embarkation room. “Here,” she said, holding out a ring towards Chartreuse with one hand, as the other used a remote to reactivate the gravity.

“What’s that?” Para asked, as Chartreuse took the small ring and slid it onto her finger.

Fate looked towards Para. “There’s a note in Chartreuse’s file that says she needs time to acclimate her power when entering every new environment. However, that artifact should reduce any ill effects, if not fix things up for her entirely.”

“Should?” Chartreuse asked, holding her hand out at arm’s length. There was a small jewel inside the artifact, possibly jade.

Fate scratched her forehead. “Mysticism isn’t a fine science?” she offered. “But we can recall you if you hit the emergency button on your communicator. If things get bad.” She gestured towards the watches that Chartreuse and Para were already wearing.

“Meaning Alice could become trapped forever in, you know, their evil clutches,” Chartreuse sighed. “Okay, let’s do this thing. No point, you know, waiting.”

Fate seemed to look at her for a moment, as if judging her sincerity, then she walked over to the main computer. “I’ll try to avoid calling you, but feel free to call in at any time. Again, surveillance might be enough for us to get a read on the situation, you don’t need to rescue Alice yourself.”

Chartreuse nodded. “Gotcha.”

Para made a little salute. “Roger!” Then she leaned in towards Chartreuse. “That’s something humans say, right?”

Chartreuse bobbed her head. “For sures.”

Fate tapped away at the keyboard, and chevrons lit up on the floor as the portal system activated. Shortly after jumping in, Chartreuse found herself on what looked like the rooftop of a school campus. Seemed like she was headed back to school earlier than she’d anticipated.

OPTIONS:

VOTING CLOSES MIDNIGHT EDT SUNDAY JULY 15th

<- To Story 4 INDEX 5 Next

PATHS NOT TAKEN:
My plots were deliberately vague. Surveillance would have involved the mystery clover group, rescue would have involved retrieving Alice, so with a tie we got them both. Escort mission would have had a princess or something, probably? I’m not sure how this will develop. Your votes really do matter, please spread the word!

TT4.96b: Resolution

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

Previous INDEX Next

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.

Previous INDEX Next

TT4.94a: Realignment

PREVIOUSLY: Much Elder Carrie (Liz) sabotaged her own Timeline Three, leading to Elder Carrie abducting her teenaged self from the past.

Previous INDEX Next

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.

“CARRIE!”

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.

***

“Freeze!”

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?”

“Um, Anthony?”

“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.

Previous INDEX Next

TT4.93b: Timeline Four Redux

PREVIOUSLY: Frank, Laurie and Tim ended up in the future of “Timeline Three”. A timeline where Mindy never travelled back. But then Carrie got herself to destroy “Timeline Three”…

Previous INDEX Next

PART 93b: TIMELINE FOUR REDUX

Luci had just arrived at home when when she received the call. She pulled the device out of her pocket, blinking at the display. “Answer,” she told it. The call connected. “Phil? Something wrong?”

“Yes. No. I don’t know,” he said, his holographic face looking very frustrated.

Luci tossed her key fob on the side table and shut her front door. “How was the visit? Is Laurie okay?”

“Laurie’s fine. Luci, I’ve pulled my tow truck over to the side of the road.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. But I feel like maybe it’s bleedthrough?”

She peered at his expression. He seemed sincere. “Can’t be. There’s no major operations planned in the area that would attract attention.”

“Luci, I’ve pulled over to the side of the road, and for no particular reason, I’m remembering that time I worked on a Chevy in… I think it was senior auto shop class.”

“Phil, I swear, we’re not up to anything.” Luci chewed her lower lip. “Want to meet though? At the small cafe on the outskirts of town?”

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