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Summer 2018

 

It's a fine summer evening in 2018, and three young superheroes are out doing their thing. 

 

When suddenly, wherever they are, they're not alone. Comparing notes later, this is all happening simultaneously on one exciting Thursday night, but of course none of them know this at the time. That simultaneity is quite a feat, given that it's the same guy talking to all four of them, even though it doesn't look it at the time. 

 

"Start again. Right," the guy in the Egyptian headdress and linen skirt continues as he appears behind Thoughtspeed. "I don't have much time, so let's make it brief."

 

The guy with the calaca face paint and black body suit continues as he speaks to Grim, "I am Yves Norris. I'm from your future. Well, one of your futures, but let's not go into that just at the moment. We don't have the time. Well, you do, but I don't."

 

The guy in what Sīxiǎng is pretty sure is a WWII-era Nationalist army uniform goes on, "My energy supplies are limited, and you must be aware that time travel uses energy exponentially proportional to duration and distance. Basic application of Jodi's Law. Not that you would know about Jodi, because she hasn't been born yet, which is why I'm here. This may not make much sense to you, I suppose." 

 

The guy in the Santa Claus costume blinked, studied Zenith, then said "Wait, this is the wrong costume for this time of year, isn't it? Sorry! But really - there's no time to fix it now..." 

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Cherish was in the middle of changing out her daywear costume to her nightwear gear when a Chinese soldier from the past appeared.  Quickly she jumped behind a changing divider, "what the fu-" She was stopped when the vision appeared to be giving a pre-programmed message about time travel. At least she thought it was pre-programmed. Post-programmed? Time travel was weird from what she saw on shows. She at least tried to speak to the guy, "alright, very inopportune timing you have, sir," she said part angered and part curious, "but hey, stay right there for a moment."

 

She looked down at her costume. Today was 'eventful'. Street level crime was her starting point. It was easy. No one mugged or killed in broad daylight. Still, there were the disparate ones who needed to do what they had to do. Yvette was talking about time travel. She grunted dutifully, and got back in the costume. Big leagues? Bigly? Maybe. Walking from behind the divider, she looked to Yvette, "alright, if you're here and not just a recording, please explain. I'll be happy to oblige you. If this isn't some weird trippy dream I'm having. And even then. This is what I wanted. Either way." She paused, putting her fists on her hips in a what-she-thought-looked heroic pose, "Well? Explain."

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Grim's dogs wheeled around with the panic and alarm that only dogs could ever really manage; with so many eyes and ears and noses pointed in so many directions, they were not used to be snuck up on. Grim was not used to his dogs being startled, for that matter, which didn't really help things all around.

 

It took him a moment to get everything back under control, but even then his hounds were milling a bit, trying to watch this 'Yves' while simultaneously expecting further skeleton-faced time travelers to pop up from the eaves. "That's, uh. Sure," he said, not sure how one responded to time travelers. Welcome to the century? Try the curable disease? "If you're from the future - and that's, uh, a lot to ask - but if you're from the future and burning time, just let me know what you want, I guess?"

 

He was privately hoping that it wasn't future ghosts. He'd never had to deal with a future ghost, but he wasn't sure he wanted to.

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"Agh!" said the man, looking away until Cherish was fully-dressed. "I am _so_ sorry, I don't know why your privacy sensors weren't triggered, I must not have set this thing right..." He reached down and began fiddling with what looked like an old-fashioned leather-strapped wristwatch on his left wrist. "I am here because I need your help - the fate of your future depends on it. That's where I'm from; from the Freedom City of the year 2525." He coughed, then went on, "I'm sorry, again, I'm really more of a physicist than a historian, but there wasn't time to summon a specialist. Anyway, I'm here to tell you that the good news is that the future is wonderful. Peace, plenty, comfort and freedom; we have all these things in abundance. Or we _should_, anyway..." 

 

For Grim's benefit, he went on, "The future as I know it depends on the birth of...well, of on a great number of people, but perhaps the most important of them this decade is named Michelle Jodi. She's due to be born around one year from now and it's her scientific developments in the late 21st century that make progress possible. She's the inventor of the remote temporal viewer, you see, the ancestor of the technology I'm using today. Reliable predictions of future events mean that...well, that everything gets better!" He smiled. "Corrupt politicians lose elections, policy decisions are made correctly; it's a stepping stone to a better tomorrow. Many better tomorrows! Say, those aren't _real_ dogs, are they?" he asked. "They're not like the 21st century ones in pictures at all..." 

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Her eyes wide, as she stared at...

She didn't recall doing anything that would cause that, no drugs, no supervillains, or weird lessons from one of the teachers. But here was Santa.  She lifted the hand holding phone to pull the earbud out.  "What?"  She was expected it to be a crazy person, or someone higher than a kite, she didn't see any spray paint on his face.  So, maybe not?  Her other hand holding at her avocado smoothie, and she just stared.  "What did you say?"

However, in her heart of hearts she knew that it wasn't some crazy person in a Santa Suit rambling at her.  It was something else.  Something more, possessing at least perceived importance by the dude in front of her.  Which she was uncertain over, by a great a margin.

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Thoughtspeed was out for a run-patrol, enjoying the night air and the feeling of barely touching the ground as he sped along, when the man in the out-of-place getup appeared and started talking time travel. He was stopped and listening in an instant. His family had drilled the importance of at least being respectful to time travelers into him, even if he hadn't been taught to implicitly trust them. So he stopped and listened, nodding gravely at the appropriate times. He wasn't sure he bought how wonderful this "future viewing" stuff was, but it sounded like someone was going to try keeping a kid from being born, and that was never cool.

 

"Feel free to talk fast, I can keep up. So this lady's not born yet? What do I need to do to help someone not erase her or whatever? Does this involve cyborg assassins? My dad keeps warning me about them, and they don't sound as fun as ninjas."

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"She's due to be born in about one year," agreed Norris, keeping pace with all of them without seeming to run. It was a bit like a video game NPC in a game that wasn't programmed quite right - turn your head away from him for a moment, and he'd show up again in about the same proximity. "Her mother is Abigail Stonagal, the society heiress and TV star." Corinne knew the name - the Stonagals had money in oilfield services and had had several mutually profitable dealings with her father. Will knew the name too; Abby Stonagal's reality show _Life With Abby_ had only lasted a season and a half but she'd done just well enough to make it onto _other_ people's shows. Both had met Abby (who was a few years older than them) a few times; she was a kind enough soul but always surrounded by managers and paparazzi. "Her mother is supposed to meet her father at this year's Westwinter Dog show." Norris swallowed, then admitted, "But, ah, the, ah, the problem is that history has begun to undergo some light unraveling and the odds of Abigail meeting her daughter's father there are growing less and less likely. You see, Pablo Jodi is, ah, on the catering staff at Westwinter this year..."

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Will frowned at this rather tangled story.

 

"Okay, so putting the vaguely skeezy air this is starting to take aside, are you saying that this Pablo guy being on the catering staff is how it's supposed to be? Or he got, like, demoted, and now there's less chance of Jodi being born?"

 

He gives Norris a critical, skeptical look.

 

"Just what are you wanting me, us, to do about all of this?"

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"How did you-oh yes, your time powers!" said Norris, speaking for an instant to all of them simultaneously before adding, "What I need you to do is help make sure that Abby and Pablo meet and fall in love - something that Pablo's job on the catering staff is going to make rather difficult. Just arrange a, what did you call it nowadays, a meet-cute?" Norris gave them all a smile. "Just get them together, and then let history take care of itself. I've spoken to some of your colleagues too," he admitted, "so you won't be alone in this. Just meet each other on the roof of the Freedom Masonic Temple, that's where the Westwinter show is, and then you can plan from there!" He smiled brightly, then added, a little nervously, "Just make sure you don't forget - my future may only be a possible one for you, but I want to make sure it's protected. Please - you're a hero, aren't you? We need your help." And with that, in a faint puff of air, he disappeared. 

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And then Matt was alone again, a half-dozen eyes casting around for a man out of time. "....okay."

 

-----

 

Grim sat on the rooftop of the Freedom Masonic Temple, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees in what probably would have been some excellent brooding, hand-clasped silence if a large, unnatural dog hadn't managed to shove its head between his hands for pets. Good brooding was always difficult against the sound of a happy tail thumping away against the ground.

 

He probably hadn't been first to arrive, but he'd been close; he was fast when he had to be, and had only stopped long enough to throw on his bandanna mask, the rest of him still clad in a white shirt and a matched black jacket and pants that sat somewhere between 'musician' and 'mortician'. Climbing a building was a problem for people who couldn't teleport. "....so," he said, to himself, to others, or to his dog. "I guess we play cupid."

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Thoughtspeed let the weird time-traveling man talk, nodding at the appropriate moments, trying to build a better picture of what "had" happened, what "might" happen, and what "should" happen. He didn't speak as the man left, simply staring where he'd been and contemplating what might be happening...

======================

 

Thoughtspeed had, naturally, gotten on-site first, and had nodded a greeting when Grim showed up, having heard (a mixture of things) about a fellow alumnus of Claremont. 

 

"Apparently. Bit of an odd situation, really. Especially since it's about someone who will invent...a gizmo that can look at the future?"

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She was late in arriving because... well, reasons.

 

Still in her outfit from practice (leggings, what amounted to body stocking, a cut up t-shirt over it, leg warmers) barring the concession of wearing a pair of black courdoroy Chuck Taylors, along with a hoodie, and a studded leather jacket. Corinne managed to scramble to the roof, even if she had to cheat by running up the empty air itself, while trying to be as nonchalant, and discreet as possible.  Which seemed not.  She grabbed the edge of the roof and hauled herself up and onto it.  "I am really hating these things.  They just... gah!"  She groused to herself.

She stopped, and looked at them, a bit wide eyed, "So... we all joining the insane parade, eh?"

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