Ran

by

 

They ran.

“Get the hell out!” he screamed. “Thirteen seconds to jump—

Light

           Suction

                           A blast in reverse…

Robert Philognosis Gryfft. ChronoOp Number Four. The Rogue. I am the first, last, and only rogue to exist in the ChronoOps government. The five of us always knew about the rogue. I even got my hands on him once, before I knew. It was all before I knew.

Metal grates against my temple. He doesn’t know it yet, but I’ve broken his arm in four places. I look over at the gun as it falls, paying peripheral attention to it as my left hand tears through the atmosphere to come into Contact with the nanocircuitry embedded in the skin of my right forearm. According to the display, fourteen bullets and three fragmentation shards are going to tear through my current x-y-z-t position in another tenth of a second. I don’t recognize the gun which means I’m futurewise- I have every model of firearm manufactured up to the Present memorized on ChronoOps standard timeline. I make Contact and jump.It starts and ends with her. She’s why. She was the assignment I couldn’t complete. To bring her timeline into solidity and accessibility with ours, I couldn’t allow her to survive. The Op was to set pneumatic charges, place them under Active Camo, remain present under AC, monitor, record, and Jump.

I set the charges, but I made the Mistake. The one we knew the Rogue would make. It was me.

Edward K. Gionet, you are under arrest for disorder, mayhem, and fundamental alteration of the Timeline. Repairs will require in excess of thirty trillion Joules. This will be extracted from your life as per the Third Temporal Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America and Partners, Inc.

The Mistake. We learned it first thing at the Academy, just like we knew everything about the Rogue but his identity. We knew of the Protest. I knew. I knew what it was I would choose to do of my own volition.

I just didn’t know I would do it.

I kill people. That’s my job.

“That’s ridiculous. You haven’t killed anyone in your entire life, on this Timeline.”

Call it what you will. It’s murder. I’ve slaughtered countless billions.

“They never existed.”

They could have.

The Mistake began with her. Her name was Katherine R. Scarlett. I managed to cover her identity up. It’s why I never learned which Op I made the mistake on. However, when I taunt, taunted, will taunt the ChronoOps team, I screamed/scream/will scream what they don’t know. What they can’t know. What they kill by infinities every time they carry out the Sentence. I was supposed to kill her, to carry out Sentence A57-Red.

 Sentence A57-Green: The subject is relinquished to ChronoOps Central Processing. In Central Processing the convicted subject’s life is Traced to the Timeline at which it was conceived. The subject is removed from its Timeline at the moment of conception, is cultured to the optimal biomass for Energy Absorption—an age of about fifteen subjective years—and is held at this local age for the amount of local time necessary to extract exactly the amount of energy required for the Jumps made to apprehend it, plus the amount necessary for all Jumps and Chronostases necessary to repair the Central Timeline. The subject must be notified of its sentence at the time of arrest as per the Fourth Temporal Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America and Partners, Inc.

Sentence A57-Red: Cause the nonexistence of the subject. Record, report, return.
The subject is not to be notified of its sentence.

12-November-1953. Standard Recon. Active Camo, enabled. Live feeds and redundant buffers—timeline intact and secure. Recursive subroutines active. This sucker’s not going anywhere, and after tomorrow it’s not going anywhere ever. I’ll be up there in half an hour, my timeline. I’ll Jump to your timeline as soon as you finish listening to the report, as per tomorrow’s orders. CO4RPG out.Okay, this is standard recon, a three minute four point two seven seconds long conversation with subject XX5-KRS before I Jump to tomorrow to monitor the final outcome of my charges. It’s all clean, all set up properly. Record, report, return.

Dropping in now, camo functioning precisely as required. Go.

There she is. Blue eyes, dark hair, medium height and build, full lips, turned-up nose, 5 foot 5.37 inches tall. The smile, the turn, I’ve seen this on mnemonotape twelve times. I’m not going to forget this naturally.

She’s sitting down, her companion is stepping away, he’s going, he’s gone. She’s alone, here I go.

She smiled at me. This is the Mistake. I didn’t/don’t/won’t know it yet.

“Hello, my name is Steven Eimann, may I have a word with you? Thank you. I just wondered a few things about the town, and was hoping you could tell me. Do you know where I can find a drugstore?”

It’s all perfectly suited to the time. The Mistake, the Mistake, The Mistake. It’s chemical. That’s what they say. They said that the Rogue failed to monitor his own chemical balance properly.

What a horrible way to say that someone fell in love.

“Three minutes, seven point six seconds long. You’re getting sloppy.”

“I’ve done worse. So have you.” 

I placed the palm of my left hand against the inside of my right forearm. The programs all run simultaneously, Central Processing receives the commands, the proper energy drains are calculated, and millions of murdered souls scream out in pain as I am rent from space and time entirely. With the propelling force of a hundred years of a thousand people’s lives, I am sent into tomorrow.

This is it. The car is coming towards me, and

Program download. */One full Consciousness explodes into existence where before only emotionless void filled the mushy intercranial matter/*

 

I know. I know. This is it, I’ve made the Mistake, they know, they know, I’m the Rogue I’M THE ROGUE

 

I didn’t I haven’t I won’t I can’t I couldn’t

The charges

Didn’t/Won’t/Haven’t/Aren’t

Go off/Gone off/Going off

the car is intact

The entire ChronoOps Team InJumps and I run the program I will code four thousand years from now, on another world. I’ll program it and download my consciousness into myself, four thousand years before, on the Day After the Mistake.

All of them drop to the ground in pain. The car crashes despite my failure to blow it up. The driver is already dead. ChronoOps, all five of them, look at me and desperately their fingers twitch at the insides of their forearms. But the nanocircuitry there is dead. We all are dead. I was there when we died. None of them recognized me. Not even me.

WE HAVE TO GO!”

She doesn’t understand, she’s been in a car crash and there are five dead men on the highway, flickering as the Timeline, screaming in pain, prepares to revert and destroy itself. 

I put my arms around her. It is what I have wished to do since our too-long conversation yesterday. I made the Mistake. And as her Timeline, and the evidence of my sins, dissolved around me, my left hand Contacted my right forearm.

 

“Where am I? Who are you? What’s going on?” she didn’t ask. She couldn’t. Her eyes screamed it, as she wept. I sat beside her and wept with her. We were in ancient Rome, secure in a solid Timeline. No matter what we did there, they couldn’t see us. They hadn’t cracked my program yet. They never would—it’s why they never found me. I’m the Rogue, and that’s all they know. I killed all of us. I have sinned, and none shall ever pay for their sins as shall I.

Ancient Rome. She did not know it, but she would only be there for a grand total of thirty seconds. Gritting my teeth and wiping tears from my eyes, I began the Run. The Run we’d all studied. The Run that culminated in the actual end of the lives of all the ChronoOps agents but one. I’d killed them before, of course—but that didn’t hold true. They’d simply Reverted, their equipment ruined. I’d been among them when it happened.

Our true battle would occur in our common Timeline.

I Jumped.

-It’s July seventeen, 1970. I’m walking along a highway in Minnesota. I’m dressed in Active Camo. I look like a hippie, or invisible, depending on who’s looking. If it’s anyone important enough, I’m alerted and they can’t see me. If it’s someone whose sighting me won’t change anything… I’m a hippie.

I’m standing out like a sore thumb to anyone with the proper, trillion-dollar scanners.

Bubbles appear, light bends, and four agents materialize. These are my brothers. These are One, Two, Three, and Five. I throw Stuns at all of them, and they each sidestep the Stuns.

“Four! What do you think you’re doing?” One stares at me, betrayal in his eyes. Two and five are breathing hard. Three is tapping at his wrist desperately. All of us know he’ll fail. Because they never caught me. We all know it. What none of them know is how I did it.

I look at One with tears blurring my vision. “You know what I’m doing. You couldn’t possibly understand, One. For that I’m sorry. But I’ll have had a thousand years to think it over before I’m done with this. That’s why you never catch me. That’s why we all die. One…” He looks at me. Three gives up and looks at me. We’re standing in the middle of a highway, aliens to the time. We’re discussing something that is alien to the human mind.

I shake my head. “You know the Constitution. But have you ever read the original document? Have you ever considered what we’re missing simply by virtue of the fact that we’ve been conditioned? Chemically altered to feel the way we do? I’m cleansed. I’m not imbalanced, I’m free. I’m not committing murder, I’m finally realizing how not to. I’ve done something wonderful. I’ve done something beautiful. You can never, ever do that. If I could save even one of you, I would. But I’m not even going to be able to save myself.”

With that, I hit my arm. It activates not one, but three Jumps—something never before possible in the Jump nanocircuitry. But I’m going to have a very, very long time to think about this.

The three Jumps occur simultaneously from my x-y-z-t position. I jump back twenty minutes, the dirt at my feet jumps forward two hundred years, and a Chronostasis lasting twenty seconds is activated. The Chronostasis keeps them from Jumping. At that moment, a car containing a youth who will one day father a Senator of Minnesota appears on the horizon. All of them activate their AC—they’ll spend their time waiting for the Chronostasis to dissipate by hiding from an unborn politician, which will distract them from the gaping hole in the ground. That hole contains the matter that jumped two hundred years into the future. It’s a logical jump. The twenty-minute jump will be filtered by the computer as an artifact. I’ve had thousands of years to consider this.

From twenty minutes behind, I establish that I’m safely where I need to be further along the highway. I wait until the moment I make the Jump, and from a safe distance away, I Jump forward again. They can’t track me…

It’s ironic. The punishment they’d inflict if I’d committed a minor offense would be to spend countless lifetimes screaming, my will fueling their Timecraft, their eternal Utopian age. Now, they’ve orders to do no less then Red me completely. They’ll never figure out how I single-handedly destroyed/will destroy/am destroying their great City. They would never believe anyone could have the willpower to voluntarily Green himself, even to attain Jump capabilities independent from their grid.

Luckily/unluckily for me, I am/was/will be a crazy motherfucker.

And maybe, in the final days before the Universe dies, I can explain to her what happened.

 

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