Tim

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”…

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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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TT4.92b: Veni, Vidi, Veniti

PREVIOUSLY: One of the security people is immune to Mindy’s mental power. Elsewhere, Laurie hears sounds of a struggle.

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PART 92b: VENI, VIDI, VENITI

“Tim, I can hear someone nearby who’s in trouble,” Laurie said.

“On or off the property?”

“On,” Laurie answered. The sounds of a struggle were coming from within the small grove of trees, where there seemed to be a gazebo.

“Okay, well, HQ here assures me that it’s not safe to approach,” Tim stated. “Double back, and meet up with Luci.”

Laurie felt torn. Given the trees, she might be able to approach the gazebo unseen. But Tim was right – what if she was caught? And what if being identified screwed up everything? Worse, what if she somehow messed up their timelines for good? Besides, what could she even do to stop whatever was going on?

“Please,” came a female voice. “Please, stop.”

Laurie made a fist. No. She had already been taken advantage of so much in her life – she wouldn’t wish that fate on anyone else. More to the point, her standing up to Frank about Mindylenopia this morning? It would mean nothing if she couldn’t follow through on her own principles now.

“Tim, I’m going in anyway,” she asserted. Drawing on her cheerleading abilities, Laurie jumped over the fence.

***

“Good evening… how exactly do you have authorization to be here?”

The brown haired security woman stared levelly at Frank and Mindylenopia. Almost before Frank had registered the movement, her weapon was out, and pointing their way.

“We need to run a systems check,” Mindylenopia said casually. “Call down a tech who can set the controls for a thirty year time jump, okay?”

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TT4.92a: Storming the Castle

PREVIOUSLY: Laurie’s mission is to make people believe Mindy is outside Carrie’s party, as Frank and Mindy barge into the stationary temporal generator.

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PART 92a: STORMING THE CASTLE

When Julie had said she was taking him to the mission hub, Tim hadn’t been sure what to expect. In retrospect, he’d expected something more impressive than the back room of a music store. “R-Really? Um, operations are r-run out of a place like this?”

“Operations are mobile, the sites change,” Julie answered. “So they can’t be pinned down. Or that’s how it worked before I cut my ties.”

“Still works that way,” came a voice from behind a piano.

Julie and Tim rounded the corner to see an older man in a faded sport jacket with unruly hair. He was sitting on the ground in front of a set of holographically projected keyboards and video monitors. Julie clucked her tongue. “Lee. Surprised to see you’re here.” Tim’s eyes widened in recognition.

“Likewise,” Lee said, glancing over his shoulder.

“Conflict of interest much?” Julie pressed.

Lee shrugged. “Luci felt my personal investment in this particular target would prevent any rash actions on their part,” he explained. “Also, I was available on short notice. Don’t worry, we still have redundancy, Megan’s observing my every move, ready to jump in.” He gestured at a monitor off to the side.

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TT4.91b: Rewrite the Future

PREVIOUSLY: They need what Julie has, to help Mindy travel back. But Luci tried to throw Julie out, after some uncomfortable truths were revealed.

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PART 91b: REWRITE THE FUTURE

Julie had pulled her glasses back out. The way she tapped at the arms and blinked very deliberately helped Frank realize that they were some sort of technological device; maybe she was using them to read the daily news. Or to communicate with someone?

Then again, Luci didn’t seem to be concerned by Julie’s actions. The asian woman merely glared at her house guest from across the dining room table, as Julie continued to stare at her lenses. Deliberately ignoring everyone present. With a sigh, Frank made sure Tim and Laurie were okay on the sofa, the blonde boy doing his best to console their redheaded friend, then he returned to the table.

“Okay,” Frank sighed. “Julie. Here’s the thing. What you’ve got? Luci thought it would make this mission safe for us. Or safer, at least. Knowing that, why would you willingly take those items away, increasing the danger?”

“Because obviously Luci doesn’t need them after all,” Julie said dryly. “Besides, if she truly cared about safety then her resistance friends wouldn’t be–”

“I have been trying to FIX that, Julie! I was making an effort, and I’ve redoubled my efforts since losing–”

“Oh, I’m sorry, you want points for better late than nev–”

“Okay, stop,” Frank said, cutting between them. He drew in a long breath. “Look. I obviously don’t know the whole history here. But I DO know you two – or knew you – when you were my age. Back when Julie tended to work on her projects all by herself, while Luci had a habit of speaking her mind regardless of the consequences. Back when, despite those differences, you both cared. About each other, and about what was going on around you. So, know what? I think that means you still care. Both of you. Somehow, you’ve simply blinded yourselves to that reality over the last thirty years.”

Julie’s posture went rigid, and she reached up to pull her glasses back off. Luci bit down on her lower lip, turning away from Julie to face the wall. For a moment, neither spoke.

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TT4.91a: Reunite the Future

PREVIOUSLY: Luci explained about the future. To help Mindy, she’ll now need to contact Julie.

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PART 91a: REUNITE THE FUTURE

For a while, no one spoke in Luci’s dining room. The forty seven year old version of Luci had left minutes ago, disappearing into the other room, claiming she needed to make some phone calls. Frank knew that his own silence was rooted in a sensation that there was too much to say, with no idea of where to start. Tim became the first to speak up.

“Here’s w-what I don’t get,” he ventured. “If Carrie’s been thwarting every m-move of this resistance – w-why did they send Shady back to activate her early? W-Weren’t things better for them in timeline two?”

“Predestination,” Laurie said glumly. “They had to do it.”

“Yes and no,” Frank said, as he reflected on it. “Yes in that it happened, so they had to have done it. Even knowing that the result wouldn’t be quite what they wanted, they had to… assuming they were even consciously aware of the final result. But no, in that the first time it happened – if we can even call it a first time, when that’s been overwritten – they probably weren’t much better off.”

“B-But Carrie wasn’t active in the prior timeline,” Tim protested.

“Not as a teenager. But I imagine the Temporals recruited her as soon as this alien artifact incident caught up with them,” Frank explained. “The difference being, in that timeline two, she was working for them, whereas now… well, I wonder if the Temporals are working for her.”

“NONE of it is our timeline though, right Frank? Right?” Laurie pleaded. “It can’t be!”

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TT4.90b: Insight the Future

PREVIOUSLY: Frank wants to help Mindy, to get her prototype temporal gun. Luci says it’s not that simple, and claims they’re in timeline 47.

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PART 90b: INSIGHT THE FUTURE

Frank reached for the napkin holder on the table, but Luci waved him off. “Don’t, I’ve got it, don’t do that,” she sighed, standing and moving to a cupboard. She pulled out a cloth which she used to mop up the coffee she had spilled.

He stood, uncertainly holding a napkin in his hand. “I guess I could keep apologizing,” Frank said. “Except I’ve found that can be bothersome to people if I do it too much.” He glanced towards Laurie.

Luci tossed the cloth towards her sink, resting both hands on the edge of the table. “Here’s the thing you don’t seem to have realized,” she stated. “Namely that, while the rest of us have to hunt for lynchpin moments to divert the time stream, Carrie isn’t bound by that rule. She can change time on a whim. She doesn’t do it indiscriminately, granted, mainly because making changes seems to leave her with a hell of a headache. But that power? It means that she can thwart us every time we try to move against her. Or by extension, the Temporals.”

Tim cleared his throat uncertainly. “And s-so forty-six times…”

“I made up that number,” Luci sighed. “There’s really no way to track it. We only know it’s happening, not how often she’s triggered it. But that’s not the worst of it.” She pushed off from the table. “The worst part is all the prejudice that’s resulted.”

“Prejudice?” Frank looked over at Tim, then Laurie, then back to Luci. “Can you give us ANY more context?”

Luci regarded him, then looked up at the ceiling. “In for a penny, in for a pound. Fine. I suppose if giving you knowledge changes bits of this in your new timeline, it would be for the best anyway. Plus we might be able to make you forget, if absolutely necessary. You won’t get many specifics though.” She pointed at him as if to emphasize that, then walked towards the kitchen. “It all starts with the alien artifact. I’m going to make toast, anyone want buttered toast to go with your fruit?”

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