Episode 2 Scene 6
The time eddies have thinned out, and we’re making good time. Mikey’s Frankenbike is grumbling along ten or so yards away, and we’re putting Sync City farther in the rear view. The blessed quiet I’ve been enjoying while keeping an eye out for threats is about to break. I know it. I can feel it: there’s no way she can shut up for this long. She’s a teenager.
“Keeper,” she chirps up. Bingo! “All that crap you had me pick up back there, it means something.”
“The Scyther chunks? Yeah, of course.”
“That shit doesn’t belong together. That bike was messed up.”
She’s right. Up until fifteen hours ago, there were clear rules. The rules of engagement, for example. They’re simple: kill or be killed. And protect those from your own timeline. The order is officially the other way around; however, if I’m dead, I’m no good to anyone. But the rules of technology are rigid. Tech across eras doesn’t combine. A “temporal resonance issue” the Deacons told us, but then again, it wouldn’t be the first time the grunts on the ground weren’t told the complete story.
“Yeah, listen, you ever seen that before, you know, tech all mixed up?” I ask her. “Maybe something at the depot?”
“No. Nothing even close.”
We tool along a while longer. There’s not much to see around Sync City. The freaky physics in this area mean people don’t live here. Too much weird shit happens. Could be that’s why the Scyther was all messed up. Shit, who knows? And on top of all this, I’m getting a bad vibe. Real bad.
I slip into n-comm with my ride and run a general diagnostics. Something’s definitely wrong. Fuel’s OK, major systems are fine, but my threat tubes show access to different ordnance. What the hell’s all that about? Once you’re locked into an era, your ammo doesn’t change. I should still have the light shards and the DUCs. I don’t. I goose up threat detection.
“Mikey, get over here.”
Nothing’s showing on the display, but the re-morph tech that keeps me a generation or two ahead of the locals should be fixed. That’s another rule. And that’s another rule that’s been violated. My change of munitions is as wrong as the mixed-tech on the Scyther bike. Something’s way off. A small warning light blinks on. It’s soft blue in color, the lowest level for a nonspecific threat. My bike considers nearly everything a nonspecific threat. It’s covering its ass. But just in case . . .
“Mikey. Now. Over here. Do it!”
I slow a touch, and she bumps in alongside. My bike’s now less flaky about its dumb cousin. Surviving a Scyther attack has softened its feelings about Mikey’s ride.
“What is it?” she asks.
“My ammo’s changed. Something’s not right.”
I pull to a complete stop but don’t get off the bike. On the bike, I have both suit and shield to protect me. Off the bike, I’m more vulnerable. I flick back to the n-comm and shoot my ride a question. I’m not happy with the answer. Fifty-fifty is great odds if you’re at a casino, but not good if you’re dealing with someone’s life. My shield may not be able to cover her. There must be stuff in Mikey’s sidecar that’s not era compatible. Maybe the flexi-wire’s from too far up the line. Or the pieces of the Scyther’s ride. Shit.
“Get closer. You need to be inside the field,” I order.
I’m hoping proximity will make a difference, but I doubt it. That’d be too easy.
A time eddy flickers into existence. I frown. They can occur anywhere, but the farther away from the time sink you are, the less likely you’ll see one. Mikey drops back a touch, wary of getting too close. I gesture at her to move closer. Another one winks in. What the hell is this, a convention? A third one’s starting to appear when my bike shrieks and slams up the shield. I scream a warning to Mikey, but I’m too late. She’s not close enough. There’s a flood of temporal radiation, and I’m cascaded. Up or down the line—I can’t tell.
All I know is this is wrong, so very wrong.