Laurie

TT4.96b: Resolution

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

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PART 96b: RESOLUTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“A battery.”

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

“So is she,” Chartreuse whispered.

A short distance away, Laurie appeared.

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

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

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

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

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

Chartreuse fired.

Energy lanced out of the gun.

The cackling blonde girl absorbed it. At first.

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

“Chartreuse, stop!” Luci shrieked.

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

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

The temporal gun exploded in Chartreuse’s hands.

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Speak for yourself,” the older Waterson objected.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chartreuse beamed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Laurie blinked. “Golly. Thanks.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

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

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

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TT4.96a: The Ultimate Paradox

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

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PART 96a: THE ULTIMATE PARADOX

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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TT4.95b: Carrie Versus Herself

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

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PART 95b: CARRIE VERSUS HERSELF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s far less interesting.”

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

Anthony began to tie Glen up.

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I don’t know that at all.”

“I’m YOU!”

“And yet… you seem unsure.”

“While you seem weak.”

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

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

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

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

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

Carrie laughed. “I am such a…”

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

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

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

“No problem.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

“I won’t help you,” Glen said.

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

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

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

“Tim!” Amelia gasped.

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So her powers began to push back.

*

NEXT: The Ultimate Paradox

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

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TT4.95a: Endgame

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

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PART 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?”

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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.

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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.”

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TT4.94a: Realignment

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

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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.

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