Frank

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.

Advertisements

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

TT4.96a: The Ultimate Paradox

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

Previous INDEX Next

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.

Previous INDEX Next

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?

Previous INDEX Next

TT4.95a: Endgame

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

Previous INDEX Next

PART 95a: ENDGAME

“What are you doing?” Glen asked.

“Preparing to isolate myself,” Carrie grumbled. The fifty year old pulled the small bomb out of it’s container in the armoury. “This ought to do it.”

Glen shook his head. “I’m still not following.”

She turned to glare at him. “The only reason younger me – hell with it, let’s call her Elizabeth – is able to function here in the future, and wherever they are in this building, is because of whatever her friends are now telling her. Yes?”

“I suppose that makes sense.”

“So, if we eliminate them, Elizabeth becomes an easier mark. And a bomb is a lot more efficient for doing that than a bunch of separate temporal banishments.”

Glen rubbed the back of his neck. “Ignoring the historical ramifications for the moment, the fact that they’re unlikely to split up? Means that if you blow up Elizabeth’s friends, you’ll blow up your past self too.”

Carrie nodded. “Hence I go after the others before they got here.”

“Except they already ARE here. So… how does that work, exactly?”

“I don’t know yet. But I’ll make it work,” Carrie asserted. “I’ll destroy them before they arrive, and let that ‘bleedthrough’ effect thing sort the rest out.”

“Um, Carrie? You don’t experience ‘bleedthrough’,” he reminded her. “You’re the cause, not the effect. You get saddled with the memory headaches. Ergo, even assuming you can pull this off, what if it merely leaves you with a massive migraine, unable to act at all?”

READ MORE

TT4.94b: Buffy’s Return

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

Previous INDEX Next

PART 94b: BUFFY’S RETURN

Carrie Elizabeth Waterson looked around at her time travelling companions. “Don’t all talk at once.”

Timothy Anthony Whitby cleared his throat. “What about Mindylenopia’s weapon?”

Frank Bernard Dijora held it up. “Drained. I already used it to take down Future Carrie, that’s why she’s not breathing down our necks.”

Anthony nodded. “L-let me have a l-look then. M-Maybe I can see how we m-might recharge it?” Bernard handed it over.

“Related, how much longer is that one shot going to keep Future Carrie out of it?” Elizabeth asked.

Bernard shrugged. “No way of knowing.”

Elizabeth sighed. “Perfect.”

Then again, she reasoned, if they kept using the gun, there was an obvious defence. Whenever Carrie regained consciousness later? She could theoretically jump back to right after she was shot. Negating the effectiveness. Good thing her future self wouldn’t have tried that already. “The gun’s hardly a permanent solution anyway.”

“Permanent?” Laurie Amelia Veniti gasped in horror. “You’re saying you want to kill future you?”

Elizabeth jerked her gaze towards Amelia. “Whoa! No, no, I want to… to… I don’t know, fix her. So that I have something to look forward to, something that isn’t… isn’t HER.”

Bernard leaned in. “That reminds me. I did overhear Carrie talking to, um, an even more Future Carrie…”

“Liz,” Elizabeth offered.

“Sure, to Liz. They were saying that the only method Carrie had for dealing with a future self was to overwrite bits of her own past. To remove the need for Liz to interfere with herself in the first place.”

READ MORE