Episode 1 Scene 8
It’s an obvious statement. Dwayne’s the only other person here. She shoots me a contemptuous look. I’ve never been any good with anything under eighteen.
“So,” I continue. “What’s that short for—Michelle?”
And there I go, off to a red-hot start. The one-percent coolness factor I may have gotten, courtesy of the bike, has gone the way of my drink. Dwayne looks at me, shakes his head, and heads to the workshop. He doesn’t need to watch a grown Keeper make an ass of himself.
“What the hell do you want, Teeno?” she demands.
There it is. The contempt’s complete, and in record time. Teeno’s short for Temporal Enforcement Officer, the official title for a Keeper. It’s usually graffitied on whatever surface has managed to survive unscathed. But for the young and feisty, it can be incorporated into everyday speech. Great.
I feel the stirring of laughter in my mind; the n-comm connection to my bike appears to be in superb working order, and my ride is appreciating my predicament. Sometimes I wish it wasn’t so smart.
Mikey takes time and studies me more closely. My facial scars, or rather facial gouges, are the result of a pre-Keeper fracas with a Scyther. It was this that got me noticed by the Deacons. Taking down a Scyther with the help of your Keeper bike is considered good form. Taking one down with no training and a knife is considered awesome. I remember this. This is good. I’m awesome.
“What’s your brother’s name? Maybe I know him,” I try.
“How would you know him? He could be anywhere.”
“If he trained as a Keeper, I can find him. I can put you in contact.”
She snorts and looks away, but doesn’t leave. “How can you find him?”
I smile. “He’ll be looking after us. He’ll be protecting our timeline.”
Young Mikey’s puzzled. This, at least, is something she doesn’t know.
“What do you mean?”
“If he survived training, he’ll be working up and down the line. Looking after our people. Our timeline.”
“So you don’t just work here, in this time?”
“Keepers of this era protect the people of this era. Wherever they are.”
“Past and future?”
“Past and future,” I confirm. “I cascade around to protect our people.”
Mikey’s thoughtful. This is more information than she normally has to process. Working the gun-rig doesn’t leave much time for contemplation—it’s usually shoot or don’t shoot. Or more accurately, just shoot. Thinking beyond the now is not a useful survival skill.
“So why do you do it? Why protect us?” she asks.
I’ve never thought about this. But I know the answer. I jerk my thumb in the direction of my motorbike.
“I get to ride that and blow shit up,” I tell her.
She shrugs. The answer seems to satisfy her. She really is Keeper material.