Guest from the futureDisclaimer: All characters, unless noted otherwise, belong to Impossible Pictures.Chapter thirty-five
“Well, Abby Maitland, you certainly took your time getting up here with your guest, and what’s with the gloomy look on your face?”
“Oh, I was just telling her that in several centuries her descendants will build starships and other extraordinary vehicles,” the clone of Christine Johnson replied emotionlessly. “She just took it the wrong way, that is all.”
“You told me that people were altering each other’s genetic structure-“
“Of course they were – cloning, cybernetic, genetic modification: if the public demands it, it will be done. Only it’s not ‘were’ – it ‘will be’: try to keep your tenses in proper order-“
“There she goes again-“
“Abby, look,” Connor said slowly. “We’re all tense here when dealing with Ms. Johnson-clone over here, but we need her to answer some of the questions.”
“Then let me set the tone by telling you that Helen Cutter told me to tell you that since you dis-suaded her from destroying the world, she will be placing the power onto the ARC regarding the future of human social and biological evolution – and let me tell you, she probably meant it metaphorically only in part.”
“What is she talking about?” Abby exploded.
“Well,” Connor said weakly, “the adjustments to my time anomaly device for a start. Abby, can you think what would’ve happened if the original Christine Johnson had learned about this sort of deviation from the original?”
“Alternatively,” Lester spoke, “think about it thusly: we almost sent several armed soldiers – and more than just ‘several’ into a foreign country without any clearance. This can be considered a declaration of war, or at least technological superiority.”
“Finally,” the clone smiled in a way very similar to the original’s, “think if you send those men not to several hours in the future, but, say, September 10, 2001, with some very specific orders towards very specific people?” Without waiting for Abby’s response, she sat down.
So did Abby, into another one. “Please don’t smile at me like that,” she muttered faintly to the clone as she turned to her friends. “Just what are we going to do about it? I mean, we can’t just ignore it, ‘cause it won’t go away on its own-“
Before anyone else could reply, the time anomaly alarms resonated throughout the building.
“Sir!” Lorraine burst into Lester’s office. “Remember the time anomaly in the kitchen? From which Mr. Quinn and his cohorts returned to us? It had opened again and an armadillo the size of a small car had walked through it! Can something be done about it?”
“Well, what are you waiting for?” Lester spoke to Danny and others. “Please try to get rid of it at least, will you? The good old days aren’t as gone as they appear to be, Abby Maitland.”
Without a word Abby and the others went downstairs – something clearly haven’t changed as much as they thought they would.
* * *
“Ooh! I am all stiff from the airplane seat – they’ve spared us no expense in getting rid of us, eh?” Becker turned to Jenny with a small laugh. “How are you feeling?”
“Like I have flown for twelve hours straight in a row,” Jenny said with a yawn, “and Lester, the trademark character that he is, suggested that they might be late – another animal out of time, something like a bleeping armadillo or something!”
“Great! We now will have to get there by our own steam – at least there aren’t any dinosaurs in the neighbourhood-“ Becker began, but Caroline interrupted him, suddenly:
“Or how about I give Jackie a call and she’ll rustle up some transportation for us? She is due for a vacation anyways, she might as well get to the airport in style.”
“In other words,” Jenny gave Caroline a very harsh look “you told her to come to the airport all the same?”
“Now Jenny, you and I have agreed back in Calgary that-“
“Just a moment, you two, I have some things to say myself,” Sarah said firmly. “Firstly, Jenny, I’m sorry for the talk we had back at the mountainside: we really had no right of making things get on such a personal level: each one of us has their own personal life to which they’re entitled to live however they want – so I’m sorry about trying to make you adhere to my beliefs.”
“Sarah, please,” Jenny sighed, as she shook her head. “You just stood up for your beliefs, so it’s cool – is that Lester?”
It was, and he was accompanied by several of Becker’s underlings, but not Danny or Connor and Abby. “Sorry about this,” he said without looking very sorry at all, “but Danny and the others are busy cleaning up after a giant armadillo, so we’ll have to make it there on our own: the traffic here is murder-“
It was when that they appeared – monstrous humanoids easily taller than even the cloned monstrosities they encountered back at the Mackenzie Mountains: some yellow with black spots and horned ridges on their heads, some in green and white stripes with snake tails for legs and occasional wings on their shoulders, and some resembling gargoyles, all winged, with skins of black or dark grey colour.
“Now then,” Jenny said calmly, “the ones in the center are the sar
, Caroline’s people – “ Caroline smiled, exhaled, and her limbs grew to the height closer to the height of the newcomers, even if still on the shorter end of the height scale.
“ – the ones on the left are saur
, Jackie’s people – “ Jackie, Caroline’s blonde assistant emerged, from the snake-tailed crowd, a forked tongue flickering between her own lips.
“ – and the ones on the right are the byak
, they don’t have a leader but they have a share as well,” Jenny finished guiltily. “They’re all, basically, political immigrants from the far-off future and want to have legal rights and the whole package.” She paused. “As their spokesperson, I, uh, want to tell you that they’re approaching the ARC with their petition because they think that it is the most appropriate place in her majesty’s bureaucracy regarding their situation.”
“Of course,” Lester groaned, “anything else?”
“We’d really rather go through legal channels than illegal,” Caroline said, smiling with teeth that appeared to be capable of cracking skulls like eggs. “And by ‘illegal’ we mean repeating the tactic of your previous guest from the future and conquering the world starting with Canada. Any questions?”
“No,” Lester shook his head, “just follow me back to the ARC. Hopefully, Danny and others have finished dealing with the giant armadillo and we’ll be able to deal with the problem with the full brainstorm.”
With those words James Lester, bureaucrat and ARC leader, having made the fateful choice, walked from the airport and towards the ARC...and towards the new chapter in the life of the ARC’s role of existence.End.