Narrator: Max Thornfield and his intrepid Flashpack were finally home. What
had begun as a simple mission through time had evolved into a deadly game
of cat and mouse that had spanned the last six months of their lives. Finally,
they’d steered their Saladonian Catship back into the here and now,
returning to the Flashpoint in the present. They’d left their friend
Nectori Stellof monitoring their base when they left. Now, six months later,
he seemed to have made himself comfortable. His clothing was scattered around
the lounge, and empty bottles of vodka and banana peels littered every open
Stellof: It’s good to see you! Where have you been? I thought you would
just be a minute?
Max: Sorry, Steloff... It’s a long story.
Keane: The moral of which is never take on Drallus in Baltimore of the future.
Furtrace: You were only dead for a month. Get over it.
Jimmy: Easy for you to say- you and Slotter were the only ones she didn’t
Drallus: I said I was sorry, didn’t I? I was being controlled! And
I did figure out how to bring you back.
Max: They’re just teasing, Drallus. We know you’re one of the
good guys. Anyway, Stellof, we didn’t mean to leave you so long… but
we did manage to wipe the Vampiros out of existence, so it was worth it. Forgive
Stellof: Vampiros? What on Earth is that?
Furtrace: Um… duh? The reason we had to go into time in the first place?
Keane: Guys, he doesn’t remember them- they never existed.
Slotter: Oh, right… that was sort of the entire point, wasn't it?
Molly: So why did you think we went into time, Doctor?
Stellof: You went to get milk, and the store had closed an hour before.
Drallus: Whoops. Well, we didn’t get any.
Stellof: It’s all right- I’m lactose intolerant. But why were
you gone for six months? If you can time travel-
Molly: You read Dreiberg’s paper on chronal sychrony. We experienced
six months of life, if we want to reenter the time stream permanently, we
have to allow for that discrepancy. Fourth law of time travel.
Stellof: Oh yes, of course, but you could have called first. I would have
cleaned up the place a little. (voice slowing to a stop) I hope you don’t
Slotter: Uh… what’s going on?
Narr: Everything around the Flashpack had slowed to a stop. Stellof was frozen
picking up a handful of peels, the live extra-net and blog-axy feeds were
frozen mid sentence, and outside the Flashpoints windows, the lunar commuter
traffic was frozen mid-space.
Max: Great Gods of Ganymede, we’ve broken time!
Alyssa: Not yet, you haven’t.
Narr: The ‘pack spun on their heels to find Alyssa, the god-like Time
Stepper from outside time, standing before them amid the frozen time. In her
hand she held a small spell pouch.
Alyssa: And I can’t let you have the opportunity.
Slotter: Oh, hey, Alyssa. How’s it hanging?
Alyssa: I’m sorry, Jill, but this isn’t a social call.
Max: What can we do for you then? Need someone to go on a top secret time
mission? We’ve just got back, but I suppose we could-
Alyssa: No! Jill… I’m afraid I’m here to take you out of
Molly: What? No!
Drallus: You’re going to have to go through us!
Alyssa: Please, don’t make this any harder than it has to be. You know
I love you, Jill… but the Time Steppers have made their decision.
Slotter: But why? I never did anything to them!
Alyssa: I’m afraid you have. This last six months, you’ve done
considerable damage to the timestream. You’ve done more to destabilize
reality than any time-turner before or after you.
Slotter: But I’ve just been time traveling, same as I always did.
Alyssa: Not quite. Small treks, personal visits, time can bend to accommodate.
You and the Flashpack have been doing full-blown historical manipulation,
deliberately altering events you already know to have happened, wiping out
the very things that caused you to time turn in the first place. Time wasn’t
meant to have to deal with that sort of paradox all at once. It makes things… sloppy.
Slotter: So your solution is to destroy me?
Drallus: You even think of coming near her and we’ll knock your block
Jim: May I interject?
Alyssa: Please, Mr. Kovacs.
Jim: Maybe you could just ask her nicely.
Alyssa: Ask her…?
Jim: Slotter is a pretty nifty individual, and if I know her as well as I
think I do, she doesn’t particularly want to destroy the universe. If
you ask her not to do any more time altering, I’m fairly certain she’ll
promise to behave.
Slotter: Yeah, I can be good! Scouts honor!
Max: (whisper) You were a boy scout?
Slotter: (whisper) No… it just sounded good.
Furtrace: Perhaps I can be of some assistance, Madame.
Alyssa: Ah, yes, Mr. Fuzzbotham! Such a pity…
Alyssa: How can you assist?
Furtrace: My people have a spell called "(cat sounds)" which, roughly
translated, means "That’s my turkey." You put it on a bowl
of food, and if someone else comes and tries to eat it, they are frozen in
place just before they put their tongue to meat.
Drallus: What does your turkey spell have to do with anything? Slotter isn’t
stealing anyone’s dinner!
Furtrace: No, no- she can put a spell on Slotter, so just before she paradoxes
Alyssa: - All of time freezes, and I wipe her out from existence before she
actually does the deed.
Slotter: Which is totally not ever going to happen again. I swear.
Alyssa: Very well. This is agreeable to the Time Steppers.
Keane: Er… don’t you have to discuss it with the others?
Alyssa: We discussed it before I came. We decided to accept the bargain once
it was proposed.
Molly: So why come in threatening Jill?
Alyssa: Because if I hadn’t, he would never have come up with the proposal.
You see? You fail to grasp even the simplest paradox avoidance measures. That’s
why this intervention was necessary.
Slotter: Well, you have my word, I won’t be tweaking time any more.
I don’t want to be… not. I like being.
Alyssa: Then so it shall be.
Max: I guess this means we won’t be seeing you again.
Alyssa: Oh, we’ve met again. Or rather, we will. When you need it most.
Narr: Alyssa held the spell pouch up as if in explanation, then vanished
as reality slowly resumed.
Stellof: (gaining speed again) …made myself at home.
Stellof: I said I hope you don’t mind, I made myself at home.
Max: Uh… no, not at all. Just so long as you left our quarters alone.
Molly: (realizing he might have screwed up her things) I’m going to
go check my lab.
Stellof: (hurried) You know, it’s great to see you again, but now that
you’re home, I think it’s just about time for me to head back
to my hometown in Russia. I haven’t seen the mother country in, oh,
a very long time. I’m sure she misses her space-faring son. I really
must be going.
Keane: Doctor, your banana crates!
Stellof: Oh, yes, Thank you Miss Keane- without them, my larynx would shrink-
Drallus: We know! Thanks.
Stellof: Yes. Well, welcome home! Be seeing you!
Narr: With that, the Russian scientist took off, hailing a passing taxi and
speeding off planetside.
Max: Well, I guess we’d better get this place cleaned up, gang. I know
it’s a mess, but if we all pull together, we can-
Drallus: You’re not going to pull a "Flashpack" about cleaning
Max: Uh… no. I wasn’t.
Jim: I wonder how much we’ve missed, being gone for six months…
Keane: Here, I’ll put on the vid.
Newsman: … Republican party, which still has no candidate for the upcoming
election. Sources close to the party say they’d take anyone but current
President Smitty, but rumors of Smitty's involvement with the Siriusian Mafia
have scared any potential candidates from throwing their hat in the ring.
Smitty: These allegations are completely false. There have been laws against
dealing with Siriusians for years, and I wouldn’t dream of breaking
those laws. However, what I said still stands- if my party puts forth no candidate,
the public can and should assume that I am their choice.
Newsman: Meanwhile, democratic candidate Senator Randall Marsh continues
to put pressure on the Republican party.
Marsh: I don’t know if the rumors of Smitty’s Siriusian connections
are true, but regardless, I find the current situation reprehensible. If the
republican party does not choose a candidate, they’re giving in to the
whim of a petty bully. Clearly, they don’t want Smitty, or they would
have named him. I challenge you, republicans of America, to stand up to this
criminal. I have no doubt that I and my running mate, Theo Carter, can defeat
Smitty- but if he isn’t your candidate, we shouldn’t have to.
Max: All the things we changed in the world, and that jerk Smitty is still
Keane: If Alyssa had just come ten minutes later…
Slotter: Don’t even joke. I’m done changing things around.
Jim: But there’s still no one to stand up to him.
Drallus: Oh, please! Don’t tell me you’re still going to run
Jim: Why not? Someone needs to put Smitty in his place.
Max: But didn’t you always say Marsh should run?
Jim: Well, sure. I mean, he’d make an excellent President, for a democrat.
He’s a good man, with a solid voting record. But what he said was right-
if we just lay down and let Smitty get his way, whether he’ll win or
not, we’re allowing him to corrupt our democracy.
Drallus: But you’re too young to be President. Even I know that. You
have to be 35 at the least. They taught us that in grade school.
Jim: Sure, but that just means we’ll need to change the rules. That’s
what democracy is all about- the will of the people. I’ve just got to
drum up support for an amendment.
Slotter: I bet we could get a whole mess of signatures at a comic book convention.
People love the Flashpack there. We could make a panel appearance and you
could announce your candidacy.
Drallus: Great. You’ll have the 30-year-old-living-in-their-mother’s-basement
Max: Don’t be such a negative Nellie, Drallus! You really think this
can work, Jimmy?
Jim: Well, I’ll never know until I try. But I’ll need a good
Slotter: That’s for sure. You really need to get your image out there,
and start changing your public perception from science-adventure sidekick
to something more presidential.
Jim: That is true.
Slotter: You’ve got to make sure you get somebody who really knows
the Flashpack, too. You don’t want someone who’s going to make
you go against your morals, that's your biggest appeal- you’re a real
straight shooter, always doing right.
Jim: Gosh- thanks.
Slotter: And another thing, you need someone who isn’t afraid to toot
your horn. Modesty has no place on a campaign, you need someone who’s
not afraid to just come out and say "Jimmy Kovacs is the most ethical,
straightforward, diplomatic, and right-headed man to run for President since
Thomas Jefferson." That’s the kind of campaign manager you want.
Jim: Then I have just the girl.
Slotter: Yeah? Who’s that? (pause) What? Why are you all… oh.
You mean me?
Jim: If you’re willing.
Slotter: I’d be honored, Jimbo. But we’d better get started right
away. We’ve only got about four months until the election! This is going
to have to be the fastest campaign on record!
Max: I’d say it’s time for one of your patented Kovacs Jam sessions!
Jim: That’s exactly what I was thinking, Max. Let’s get everyone
Molly: STELLOF!!!! Where is that shoodra?
Max: Molly, what’s wrong?
Molly: He used all my spare parts and half of my Crell-o-toner to make a
banana cloning ray… and he left his filthy peels all over Julie’s
Keane: Why am I not surprised. That man just doesn’t know how to keep
his hands to- (pause) I’m going to check my underwear drawer.
Jim: That’s ok, we’ll start the brainstorming when you get back.
Furtrace: You don’t think he touched my treatie stash, do you?
Slotter: He’d be frozen if he did, wouldn’t he?
Furtrace: Good point. Hey, where did Drallus go?
Max: I think she slipped out while Slotter was talking about Jimmy’s
Slotter: Must have had to go to the bathroom or something.
Furtrace: I’ll just go-
Molly: Give the girl her privacy, Fuzzball.
Narr: But Drallus hadn’t gone to the bathroom, she’d gone off
to her quarters to be alone. She closed and locked the door and her shoulders
Drallus: Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy! It’s like it’s all Max cares about,
making the little pipsqueak happy! I could be president. If I wanted to. Hey… what’s
Narr: Resting on Drallus’s bed was a dark crystalline shard. It had
definitely not been there when she left six months before. She picked it up.
It was warm to the touch.
Drallus: Maybe it’s Dr. Stellof’s... but why would he leave it
in my room? (sigh) Who knows why that maniac does anything. It’s beautiful.
Narr: Drallus looked into the darkness of the crystal, her eyes falling deeper
and deeper into its depths.
Drallus: It’s like the farther inside you go, the darker it gets.
Dex: Much like you, my dear Drallus.
Drallus: Who said that?
Dex: A friend. Maybe the only real friend you have.
Drallus: What do you want?
Dex: I have a secret to tell you. Don’t worry: it’s good news.
Narr: What is this strange crystal? Who is contacting Drallus? Will Jimmy
be able to get an amendment passed so he can run for President? Will President
Smitty tolerate this affront? Tune into this season’s episodes of Epic
Echoes, the backwards series, to find out... Next week, the adventure continues
with "The Dogs of War".