This is the ninth installment in our ongoing serial story, The Time Traveler’s Scheme. In the previous section, Daeva and Tinsley discovered they were now wanted by some future space-time authority for their attempts in changing the timeline. Melina, now completing her Ph.D., encountered a mysterious stranger who has some unbelievable news.
To read this story from the beginning, click here.
“Say that again?” Melina was incredulous, her hand still hovered over her commlink.
“You, Melina Penrose, sent me here. Well, not you you. I’ve never met you, per se. I mean this you. The other you, the future you sent me here.”
“You’re a lunatic,” she told him.
“And you just finished a doctoral thesis in a quantum unified theory that seeks to prove the possibility of time travel. It never occurred to you what might happen if you actually got it all right?”
The rain was not letting up. If this was a prank by one of the Ph.D biophysics candidates she wanted to know and just be done with it. “I’m not an idiot in any year or timeline. If I sent you I would have given you proof. Something tangible you could take back to me and show me. Something only I would know about.”
“November 12, 2060. Your mother came home from the lawyer’s office and told you the charges would all likely be dropped within a week.”
“You could have easily read that or guessed the timing – ”
“And then,” Gravity continued cutting her off, “for the first time ever she told you she honestly believed you. Not that, ‘I believe you believe it’ crap. She sat you down, looked you in the eye and said, ‘Melina, I was wrong. I doubted you, I doubted your father, and I was wrong. I always have and always will believe in you, but now – ”
Stepping closer to Gravity, in unison, they finished the line together, “- I truly believe you. You will make time travel possible.”
“I never told anyone that story before. Not even Dad. It was my secret with my mother. I’d never loved anyone as much – ”
Gravity nodded. “As you loved her in that moment, I know. And you said you always felt guilty for that. And you never did tell anyone about it until you shared it with me 42 years from now.”
Melina was breathless. She expected him to hand her some innocuous statement scribbled on a piece of paper or a long forgotten trinket that would remind her of old times. To hear one of her most deeply held, previously unshared, memories was a punch to the gut. And, to her, it seemed like something she would do to herself. A harsh and somewhat lovely thought would only add to the dramatic effect.
“We need to get out of the rain,” Melina told him. “You got a car or anything?”
“Something,” Gravity replied with a grin. “Probably best if we take your ride. I’d prefer to remain inconspicuous, know what I mean?”
“I can probably guess,” Melina said realizing she, too, was smiling.
“What do we do?” Daeva asked her brother, unsure of her plan for the first time since she began it.
Tinsley massaged temples and closed his eyes tightly. “I have no idea.”
“How long will it take someone to pin us down? To realize we are the cause of the anomalous readings?”
Tinsley shrugged his shoulders and threw up his hands. He never reacted to questions in that manner before. Daeva was instantly concerned.
“Three decades? Three years? Three days? Three hours? I haven’t the slightest clue. I just know they are actively searching. Vareese and I can do a few things to through someone off if they’re looking for the particles from the Hummingbird or the Rhino, but, somewhere down the line, if our opponents are this technologically advance they will find us. The only way we can guarantee our safety is for you to stop traveling.”
Daeva’s voice broke like shattered glass. There was a creaking sound in her throat she’d never experienced. Was this shame manifested? She took a breath and started fresh. “I can’t do that yet, brother. Soon, but not yet. I haven’t all the pieces I need to build -”
“We’re destroying the universe, Daeva!” Tinsley spoke in a deep, thunderous roar that ripped through the mammoth workshop. He’d been shy and timid his entire life, looking for any opportunity to avoid confrontation. Now, in this moment he stood before her, staring her down as an angry father might look upon a disappointing child. She could feel his gaze practically burning holes into her. “We have literally rupture time and space! Your plan has both metaphorical and literally cracks in it and you lecture me on what you can and cannot do? You fool, there will be no world to conquer and no father to avenge if we wipe all of existence from the history books. And that is where we’re headed!”
“That is not where we’re headed!”
“We’re almost there now, Daeva! Damnit, do you see that?”
“We are not headed there because you will not let us get to that point! You are a man of science and logic and faith. I am a vessel of anger and rage and hate. I know that! I understand it. I have carried that hate for the both of us. I wanted you to grow and live without knowing it, without remembering what it was like to have our father and our lives ripped from us. And I felt that pain all over again when I knew in my heart that I’d loved William, a man that has never existed because of my actions, my decisions!” Daeva realized tears were streaming from her face now, but she didn’t have the energy to care. “I have no logic, Tinsley. I have no science. All I have is that hate that guides me. The only faith I can possibly have is my faith in you and this plan. It’s all I have, it’s all I want now. William placed his faith and love in me just as our father did when he brought us here to safety. We are their legacy. I will not stop until I see their faith rewarded. And that reward is vengeance upon our enemies.”
Tinsley was still ridged. His focus was still a laser aimed at Daeva. “Your vengeance might be the death of the entire universe.”
She wiped her face, and replied, calmly, “Then together, brother, we shall watch it all burn.”