​​​​​Sync City

 

Episode 1 Scene 15

The Present


We’ve been making decent time through Saskatoon. Saskatoon, or Sync City, as it’s become known, is a tricky place. This is where The Blink Event happened. This is where humanity took our timeline and threw it in the temporal blender.

We’re moving through the outer edges of the city to the north of downtown. We need to swing by the university, or the giant temporal sink that exists where the university used to be, to make it through before nightfall. The time eddies in this area are rough and unpredictable. If I didn’t have my ride with me, I wouldn’t even bother trying. But why have great ubertech if you can’t make dangerous and stupid decisions every once in a while? Besides, the detour around the time sink takes forever, and Mikey’s already pissing me off.

“Come on,” she says. “You’ve got to tell me.”

“It’s classified.”

“Classified from who? There’s no one else around. ‘Classified’ was bullshit even before The Blink, grandpa.”

“I’m younger than Dwayne,” I counter.

“Shit, everyone’s younger than Dwayne. He’s got to be over forty.”

The temptation to lay rubber and get out of here’s overwhelming, and it isn’t helped by the fact that my ride’s enjoying my discomfort. The latest upgrade to my machine included a “personality adjustment” for the vehicle interface, one that’s supposedly “compatible with my primary mode of thinking.” Obviously then, I’m a complete prick and I hate myself. The Deacons tell us that the bikes are not sentient and that we, the Keepers, are in charge, but try telling that to the two-wheeled bastards. They never listen. Getting my ride to go faster currently wasn’t an option.

“Right, change of subject,” I order. “Time eddies. What do you know about them?”

“What’s there to know? You get sucked into one and hope you have enough breath to survive until you get spat out.”

“You ever get caught in one, Mikey?”

She says nothing, playing the cool card. She clearly hasn’t. Getting caught inside a time eddy’s not something to be cool about. The amount of shit you see as you swirl through the past and future is unnerving. There are only so many times you want to see yourself die. Did I mention that time eddies are personal? Well, they are, a twisting, turning microcosm of your possible pasts and futures: a total mind screw.

“So, you haven’t spent much time outside of the fuel depot, right?”

She gives a cool shrug.

“Listen, time eddies are crap,” I continue. “They mess with your brain. They can kill you.”

“Yeah. So? This is old news.”

“But,” I carry on over the teenage attitude, “they’re better than being killed or captured by a Scyther.”

“What?” says a more interested Mikey.

She maneuvers her ATV/sidecar combo closer. My bike balks and judders sideways. I throw my ride a mental smirk. For my bike, Mikey’s ATV is like having a distant mountain relative visit.

“You never want to be captured by a Scyther, especially you. If the Deacons know who you are, so do the Scythers.”

“So the Scythers have a plan?”

Right now, I need to make a decision. How much do I tell her? The Deacons sending me off to chase the Scyther was probably only part of my mission. Finding Mikey and bringing her back for training was undoubtedly the primary goal. It has to be, though why they didn’t tell me about her is unknown. They would just give the standard excuse of “knowing events which are occurring in the time web can lead to catastrophic temporal shifts.” Shit. That sounds a lot like “classified” or “need to know.” I make my decision.

“Scythers don’t plan. Scythers are soldiers. They’re the equivalent of Keepers.”

“So they’re like you,” she says.

“Kind of. Though with less autonomy.”

“I don’t get it. I thought they just killed us.”

“Yeah, well, they do that, but it’s under direction.”

“Someone’s telling them what to do?”

“Someone or something. We don’t know, but they’re being coordinated.”

I shake my head. There’s a lot we don’t know about Scythers, and their tendency to explode instead of being captured has left us with nothing to study.

“So what’s that got to do with me being captured? Why’s a time eddy better?”

My smile’s grim. “What we do know is Scythers were originally human.”

“So . . .”

“DNA shows that some of the destroyed Scythers were us.”

“Us? People?”

“Yeah, but not that,” I respond. “A lot of them were former Keepers. Ones we thought were dead.”

“Oh,” Mikey says. “So if I get caught . . .”

“You get a whole lot of wetware jammed in your head, and you go off and kill a ton of innocent people.”

She continues to bump alongside me. The going’s rough, but her ride’s doing OK. She’s deep in thought. It’s not a look that suits her. She pulls herself back to reality and grimaces.

“You’d better tell me more about time eddies, Keeper.”


Episode 1 Scene 16 >


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