(This is usually when I move the focus of the narrative from a character to some kind of setting. I think this picture gives a somewhat accurate depiction of what I had in mind.)
I hadn’t been moving that fast when I entered the wormhole so it was a shock when my pod shot out of it into the new universe like a bullet from a gun. When you consider the gravitational pull that drew me into it that closed off again less than a second later, it’s no wonder my speed would have increased so dramatically. There was a sudden jolt from what I could only assume was the pod crashing through some kind of wall before screeching to a stop. Only from the strangling pull of my seat belt could I tell that my pod had rolled onto its side. Muted sounds filled the world outside, people screaming, but in a way I wasn’t expecting. I mean if some unsuspecting locals were to suddenly be invaded by massive fiery hunk of metal you would expect to hear fear in their voices but that’s not what I heard. Instead the tones of the voices outside sounded more like commands than anything…
Is this when they finally catch me?
(If you’ve watched enough time traveling films there are two things that happen frequently, random occurrences that make sense later on and the other is that characters will remember the times in which they have previously lived.)
Suddenly the hatch to my pod was ripped open and a bright light attacked my shrinking pupils. I cringed away and the voices became louder, though I still couldn’t make them out. Two syllables… my name has two syllables. Jumping to the past was rough on the body so it was no surprise that I couldn’t fight back when the figures in black Kevlar grabbed hold of me.
“Robin, Robin Watts!” a low, rasping voice raped my ears.
“What?” I asked and then raised my voice when he wouldn’t stop repeating himself. “Fucking what?!”
A face with a crew-cut and, I kid you not, a thick handlebar mustache arose from the blur. The man sneered as his hand grasped my shirt and pulled me from the toppled over pod. “We got you, you son of bitch!”
The rising inflection of his assent didn’t attest to his intelligence but spinning me around to face the spotlit warehouse with one arm did attest to his strength. Even if my body wasn’t made of scrambled eggs I wouldn’t have been able to struggle against him very successfully. Other men in visor-helmets and Kevlar stood around me. Div-men, each with their hands on their weapons.
(This is a perfect time for the second part of the premise to come into the story.)
Tears came to my eyes as I saw the 18-00 machine gun held at the ready and, despite them being a trigger pull away from being my death, they were tears of joy. Originally those weapons hadn’t even exited at this time but thanks to a few jumps by yours truly they’re now standard issue. Technology innovation had already sped up more than I could have desired for this point. It’s always good to see that a plan you were unsure about from the beginning is working out but when that plan is your life’s goal, it’s.pretty.freaking.sweet. I didn’t get much time to revel in my success before another long dark haired Div-man looked down on me. Correction, Div-woman, another unexpected change, but considering her beauty, not unwelcome.
“Do you know how we knew when you would appear?” she asked as they scanned me with a metal detecting wand.
“Someone hacked my terminal before I jumped, the real question is how you found out where.” Because of planetary rotation it’s very hard predict these kinds of co-ordinates.
“Let’s just say we got lucky,” she said as two more of the Div-men cuff me and pulled me to my feet.
Handlebar mustache winked at me and I’m suddenly given the notion that things are not all as they appear. I grin at them. I won’t be in their company long and why not be friendly to people passing you by in life? With handlebar mustache on my left and another visor-covered face on my left, I’m hauled towards a mag-van parked in the warehouse. Nothing much to see, a few empty boxes passing my view before I’m carried into the back. I have to be all-eyes if I’m going to pick up on what I left myself. They surround me on the seats and can’t help but think that those visors of their impair their vision until the doors thump close and everything goes dark.
“Night vision, huh?” I ask, now not being able to see a thing. “You sure know how to give a warm welcome to a visitor from the future.”
“We’re well aware of who you are, you’re…” The Div-woman’s lovely voice makes the darkness feel almost intimate until she is interrupted by mag-van jolting into movement. “…Getting away this time.”
I note the smooth acceleration as my body begins to itch. I can tell the nanites in my brain are causing my body to produce the proteins I need to be fully mobile again. I can only hope I have time to recover before what I know is going to happen does happen.
“We’ve been encoding messages from your time since you started this escapade, you didn’t think someone was trying to catch you? Unlike unnanoed people it’s not hard to send data back in time.”
I decided to give them a hint. It always made it more enjoyable when they realized I had given them all the answers they would need. Besides, it would only take a few more seconds before this shit storm starts off.
“Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the messages that gets me, it’s the accuracy of them.”
(Okay, so for the last paragraph I’ve been trying to build up to something cool. How much build up needed is subjective but I think that’s enough.)
She ignored this. “You’ve created what… a hundred universes during your time travelling? You ought to have come to the conclusion by now that your actions could have been predicted.”
I shrugged. “It’s goes both way sweet-cheeks.”
Being that she was one of the only Div not helmeted, I could only assume her eyes narrowed in the silence that occurred after I said this. What she would have said next could have been, ‘What are you implying?” or “This is a trap”.
Whatever it was I didn’t make it out when the Div-man on my left hissed in my ear, “Close your eyes, Robin.”
I did so just before something metallic hit the floor and white filled the inside my eyelids. A flash grenade, and by the heat that hit my knees, a sparkler to boot. Men screamed as the bright flashing light blinded any of those with night vision visors engaged. Obviously my aid didn’t have his on for he was quickly unlocking the cuffs around my wrists. I didn’t know who he was under the helmet but I had a feeling that he was one of the fools who still believed in the grandfather paradox way of looking at time travel, believing that if I went back again I could give his ancestors some winning lottery numbers and make him rich in turn.
The fact that reality didn’t just change as soon as the van door swung open and I managed my escape very quickly revealed that he had made a big mistake helping me. It didn’t work like that. Even if his past self did win the lottery he wouldn’t be effected by it because you’d be a universe away from each other and he would be a completely different person to who Div was now.
Once again light shrunk my pupils but this wasn’t the reason I stopped and gasped. The eighteen hundreds American city had changed since I last saw it. Everything was lifted off the ground, shining towers so tall that you could barely see their base and mag vehicles whizzed passed me. The magnetized road I was on was one of many that twisted and crossed over the the many interlaced once behind it. I shouldn’t be gawking, I should be looking for something out of place, something another of my allies set up while I was away. My eyes skimmed the gutter as road platforms trilled horns when they passed me like it was a goddamn freeway.
I felt panic prickle the back my head as I heard the mag-van turn my way. A few of the Div who had come out after me had commandeered some of the civilian platforms and were heading towards me at an alarming speed. A gym bag flew from a passing car that looked like an electric shaver, teeth and everything. I swept up the bag, continuing to run as I unzipped the material and… stopped. As I pulled out the mag-boots from the bag I couldn’t help but feel that who ever planned this thought they would test my resolve. I shook my head. Mag-boots were for kids who cared more about a thrill then their own life. Then again, I always have had a knack for free-line… whatever.
(Now this is something I’m going to have give context to later on in the story or maybe mention it before hand. Otherwise, here’s the thing I mentioned before.)
It didn’t matter, the Div were catching up and it wasn’t like I hadn’t done this before, despite having done it a while back in the future. I clicked on the mags like clicking on ski boots and moved over to the edge of the pathway. Over the rail on the road I saw, to put it simply, a really big drop leading onto a downward slope, cars travelling even vertically down it. With the mag-boots, it shouldn’t matter how big the drop is. I’m just fortunate the Div made sure I had nothing metal on me otherwise this wouldn’t have worked. Taking a breath in, I remembered as I always did that if I died here nothing would have been put in place for anyone to help me to escape in the first place, when I achieved my advantageous goal. That’s when I heard the familiar pings of the 18-00s ricocheting off the railing before I cursed and swiftly jumped over the edge of the road, then began to fall.
The boots were no different to the ones I had used before. I pulled my knees to my chest so I could push the button that activated the rotating magnets. The motors roared to life, spinning as they sucked me towards the oncoming traffic. The magnetism was met with the road’s own force-field and, at the same speed that I had been falling, I slid away from an approaching car, gliding just above the road. The movement wasn’t at all like skating but it did involve a lot of swaying in order to dodge the other vehicles around me. I heard another car blare its horn and turned to see the Div-men following quickly on my tail. I had no idea how they caught up with me so quickly but I knew I would have to find some way to lose them. They didn’t seem all that obligated to let me go and, by the bullets that flew my way, I realized the message they received from the future must have ordered them to capture me dead of alive.
I swung in behind another mag-truck, this one belonging to a civilian and the bullets ripped holes in it’s side before they ceased firing. The thing motored and it took me for a ride as I grabbed hold of it’s back trailer, though I knew the Div would eventually try to trap me in by encircling it and surrounding me. It would go bad for me if I let that happen so I thought of another plan. I spun off from the truck and towards the edge of the road, looking for the next stretch of magnetized way that would pass beneath it. In this part of the city there were gaps in the side rails for vehicles to be lifted up in to the high towers or simply to change to a higher or lower road. Unlike those on the mag-boots, the larger vehicles needed to input the directions program into their GPS for the moving docks to be ready before they would open to lift them up. Being in a bit of hurry I knew I would have to improvise.
Before the sub-road could passed under me I pushed off, jumped for the next dock as I disengaged the magnet’s spin. Maybe I did this a little earlier than I should have because the undersides of one of my boots scraped against the edge of the road, ripping it from my foot before I was falling again. I re-engaged the motor on my remaining boot and the thing must been brand new because it started up a second before I was about to become a mess on the pavement. As soon as the field hooked my boot, I pushed off with my barefoot and took off again. My impulsive decision seemed like a good idea, the Div were nowhere to be seen which meant I just had to get myself out of sight. Suddenly a hovering platform roared towards me from an intersection. I only had time to see a gracefully dark figure leap from into a dive roll before another car from an intersection clipped me. I spun uncontrollably, the world spinning until… I must have hit something because suddenly the road was skinning my ass and I wasn’t moving anymore. If that wasn’t enough the fucking Div-woman, who I now realized was the person on the platform who had rammed me, eclipsed the sun over me.
I raised my hands but she looked pissed. “Don’t shoot.”
Her next action made it quiet clear that she wasn’t going to listen to anything I had to say.
(There we have it, first action scene done. I will be moving on to the other main characters and will giving some more context to setting in the next part.)
Next chapter next week.