Time Guards 1-4
Baroness Bertha Von Suttner
Narrator: Max Thornfield stood in a classic Mexican Standoff with
one of his most bizarre foes, the implacable Mr. Banal. His blaster could
easily destroy the Crusader for Conformity, but not before Banal’s automatic
took HIM down. The two of them stood motionless, guns trained on each other,
on top of Mount Everest in 800 BCE.
Max: What do you mean, you’re on our side? You’ve sworn to destroy
me dozens of times!
Banal: Don’t be an idiot, Thornfield. We’ve got a common enemy.
One that’s rewriting history to suit their ends.
Max: And yours. A world without color, joy, happiness –
Banal: Oh, F(BLEEP!)ing listen to yourself, Thornfield. I’ve dedicated
my life to destroying your ridiculous ‘powers’ and ‘magic’.
Time travel’s just another of your little weirdnesses; why would I use
Max: Then those freaks from the ‘Empire’ weren’t with you?
Banal: Well, give the little hero a cookie. Yes, Thornfield, they’re
part of a much larger menace, bigger than you or I. If we don’t stop
them they’ll enslave all of mankind across the whole of the time-stream.
So if you’ll just lower your blaster, we can work something out.
Max: Oh no, Mr. B. I’m not falling for that again. As soon as I’m
not about to shoot you, I’ll have a cold iron slug in my brain.
Banal: (momentarily reminiscing) Ah, San Francisco. Good times.
Max: You put the gun down and I’ll do the same.
Banal: Oh, come now, Thornfield. Just because we’re more than two centuries
before our time doesn’t mean I was born yesterday. I may be on your
side, but that doesn’t mean you’re on mine.
Max: (chagrined) Was worth a shot. Will you at least tell me what you know?
Banal: About the Vampiros? They suck blood, drain innocence, time travel
and want to conquer humanity.
Max: Drain innocence?
Banal: I don’t make these things up, Thornfield. They prey on what
is most pure and unsullied in the human psyche, leaving only despair and depression.
Max: Sounds like something you could get behind.
Banal: Oh, f(BEEP!) you. I’m destroying the weird to set humanity free;
the Vampiros want to enslave us with it. If you can’t see the difference
then you might as well join them.
Time Guard 1: Don’t move, humans!
Banal: And now you’ve led them to me. Splendid.
Time Guard 2: Drop your weapons!
Max: Don’t you think it’s a little late for placing blame?
Banal: I think it’s just time enough for an ambush, yes?
Narr: Without responding Mr. Banal turned and fired on the Vampirosian Time
Guard. His cold iron bullets pierced their magical shields and brought them
down with gaping holes in their chests. As the rest of the Flashpack phased
into the location, the Vampiros closed in around Max and his nemesis.
Drallus: Max! Let’s go!
Banal: Run, you twit! (gory tearing noise)
Narr: Max grabbed Mr. Banal from off of the Time Guard’s sword and
pulled him toward the waiting Flashpack. A burst of time found them on Easter
Island, stone heads watching their most hated enemy bleed out onto the beach.
Max: Furtrace, can you fix him?
Furtrace: (yowling, cut off suddenly)
Banal: Don’t bother, cat-man. I’m immune to magic, remember?
Molly: Then there’s no way we can save you?
Banal: No way I’ll use. This, it seems, is the end.
Max: It shouldn’t have to be this way. You deserve a fair trial, judgment...
Banal: Oh, shut up, Thornfield. It’s bad enough dying without you feeling
sorry about it. (wet, ugly coughing) Jillian?
Banal: I’d hoped to tell you this after I’d conquered the world
and slain all your comrades, but I guess it didn’t work out. (more
I always liked you, Jillian. Never could get the nerve together to say it.
That’ll teach me to wait until the last (dissolves into a fit of
coughing, gurgle, silence. Beat)
Slotter: Well, that was…unexpected.
Keane: Good riddance, I say. Where do we go from here?
Jimmy: Sara! How can you be so heartless?
Keane: Heartless? His last dying words were a confession that he hoped to
kill us and score with Slotter. Pardon me for not being too broken up.
Jimmy: We can’t just leave him here!
Max: We’ll bury him here. It’s the least we can do. Slotter’ll
need some time to refresh herself after those last two jumps anyway.
Narr: In the shadow of Easter Island’s impassive statues the Flashpack
buried Mr. Banal, his grave unmarked and his weapons removed to prevent paradox.
A short service, overseen by Molly, completed the procedure. After that, the
Flashpack sat down for a long talk.
Max: Let’s start with the basics. When are we?
Slotter: I’d say about 1884.
Molly: And the statues are a dead giveaway for Easter Island in the South
Max: And Mr. Banal managed to tell me about these guys. They’re called –
Keane: Vampiros, yes, we know. Sir William told us.
Jimmy: The British guy in the hat. Last we saw him he was fighting them on
top of some building in 3939.
Slotter: He was kinda cute.
Keane: (dreamily) Yeah…
Max: Well, that’s good, but it doesn’t help us very much. Where
do we go from here?
Molly: We need to know more before we can really get going. Let’s go
to the source.
Keane: The Master Archivist?
Jimmy: If anyone would know...
Slotter: Who’s M.A. for 1884?
Keane: Baroness Bertha Von Suttner, in Vienna.
Jimmy: Von Suttner the novelist?
Max: Who now?
Jimmy: Bertha Von Suttner, she was an author, she won the 1905 Nobel Peace
Prize. She was a big name in the armistice movement.
Molly: Sounds like the sort of person Knowledge would pick to be Master Archivist.
Slotter: Vienna it is, then. Let’s go.
Narr: Five minutes in the future found them in a Viennese drawing room, where
a woman in her early forties was writing, only to stand up amazed at the presence
of the Flashpack in her townhouse.
Suttner: What are you doing here?!
Slotter: It’s okay, Baroness. We’re not here to hurt you, we
just want to talk.
Suttner: Who are you hooligans?
Keane: We’re from the distant future, Ms. Von Suttner. We’re
here to speak to you in your capacity as the Master Archivist.
Suttner: Ah. One of these. (sighs) Third time this week something like this
happens, and it’s only my first month on the job. You can’t imagine
what it’s like being the repository of all knowledge.
Molly: It must be quite the burden. We were wondering if you had any information
about the Vampiros.
Suttner: Vampiros? Well, I don’t know much about that off the top of
my head. Let me check the Archive.
Narr: The Baroness made her way to a fine study. One person in a generation
is chosen by the Abstract Concept of Knowledge to be Master Archivist, keeper
of all things known by humanity. Each Archivist stores that knowledge in his
or her own way. To the Baroness it manifested in a room of fine, leather-bound
tomes. She poked through several volumes before arriving at the one she was
Suttner: The Vampiros are alchemically-transformed humans who drain innocence
from humans while drinking their blood. Created in 1681 by Sir Ector Huntingdon,
the noted English alchemist, Vampiros can produce children in addition to
feeding others their insidious elixir to multiply.
Molly: That’s pretty scary.
Keane: No kidding. Is there any indication of how to destroy them?
Suttner: They’re very powerful; in addition to heightened strength
and speed, they retain all the knowledge of their lives and can learn much
more. They can still be destroyed by physical harm, however, and…ah,
here we are. "Vampiros are destroyed when their progenitor is destroyed.
Thus, seeking out the most powerful Vampiros can be the way to slay myriad
Slotter: That’s good news!
Keane: That the only way to defeat a powerful monster is to defeat an even
more powerful monster?
Slotter: It sounds less hopeful when you put it that way.
Max: Are any powerful Vampiros mentioned in there, Baroness?
Suttner: Well, there’s mention of an Alabaster Khartoff in Itally during
the Renaissance, he might be useful. There’s nothing else here, but
I seem to remember…let me check in the future…
Narr: A tiny folio on a dusty shelf held a loose collection of papers. Suttner
flipped through them in search of a single sheet of parchment.
Suttner: Ah, here we are! Vampiros lore is the specialty of the Master Archivist
of 4044. Good Lord, 4044? That’s quite a distance from now.
Max: No kidding. Well, I guess we know what our next step is. 4044 it is!
Slotter: Everyone join hands! Wait a minute…where’re Jimmy and
Narr: Jimmy and Drallus were just waking up in a cold and muddy trench. Overhead
there were bursts of gunfire and the explosion of bombs.
Drallus: Where are we?
Jimmy: Doesn’t look like Vienna.
Drallus: And where’re everyone else?
Jimmy: Do you think something happened during the Time Step?
Time Guard 3: We did.
Time Guard 4: Well done, Flashpunks. We’ll pick you off two by two
as you travel until there are none left. You’re 60 years and hundreds
of miles from your friends. The Dread Emperor will be pleased.
Jimmy: You’ll never get away with this!
Time Guard 3: Oh my gods, do people really say that?
Time Guard 4: It’s in all the history books, but to hear it out loud,
Drallus: Shut up! (sounds of massive physical violence)
Drallus: You shut up too. Let’s find a way to get out of here.
Jimmy: Well, when are we?
Drallus: Well, let’s look at this dead guy over here. Hmm…rifle
is mid-1940s, uniform is Amerasian. Looks like we stumbled into World War
Jimmy: Shucks. Wait, what’s that over there?
Narr: Jimmy pointed at a shiny object sticking out of the ground. Drallus
pulled it up with no apparent effort.
Drallus: It’s Keane’s transporter belt!
Jimmy: And a note. "Lending this to you so that you can find us when
we step to you. Take good care of it. Keane."
Drallus: How did they know?
Jimmy: Furtrace can find us without much trouble. Maybe the Vampiros have
a time-stepping blocker up around the area.
Drallus: So they buried the belt in 1884 so we can use it to get out of here!
Colonel: Who the devil are you?
Jimmy: Don’t panic! We’re from the future!
Colonel: Good Lord, are you Jimmy Kovacs and Drallus Thornfield?!
Drallus: Um, yes.
Colonel: Not a moment too soon! I’ve been ordered to deliver you this –
Drallus: Incoming plane! I’ll handle it!
Narr: Drallus rushed toward the oncoming fighter, fists clenched and ready
for action. What is the Colonel supposed to deliver to Jimmy and Drallus?
Will they successfully reunite with the Flashpack? And what of Alabaster Khartoff?
Stay transfixed in suspense until next week, when the adventure continues
with Epic Echoes: Great Green Dragons!