Chapter 3: It came from the futureDisclaimer: None of the characters are mine, but belong to their respective owners.
Lately the mood at the ARC was more subdued than the usual, and the arrival of Emily Merchant from the past didn’t have anything to do with that, not directly.
“I don’t mind having her here, not really,” Becker was telling Jess on that day (largely because he was trying to work up his nerve to invite her to meet his family), “but with Lester currently spending his time in the ministry for some reason rather than here, the whole protocol thing makes me uncertain-“
“Yes, Becker,” Jess agreed, wondering what he was trying to work his nerve up to. Considering that when it came to therocephalians of the past and bat-like predators of the future Becker was all but fearless, Jess couldn’t help but wonder if this was somehow related to the present, and perhaps even to her. “But that said, I like Emily.”
“Don’t you like Lorraine?” Becker said, sounding somewhat confused.
“Yes, but as a girl I can like as many people as I want,” Jess said delicately, “and, anyways-“
What Jess wanted to add remained unsaid as a time anomaly alarm resonated through the building.* * *
Once caught, Connor Temple did resemble a criminal caught at the scene of his crime; Philip Burton, unfortunately, didn’t, and April Leonard... actually, she had sort of blended into the background rather than actively participate in this confrontation.
“Connor,” Abby said, almost snarling, “what have you done?”
“Became the first person to artificially generate a time anomaly?” Philip Burton answered instead with a question of his own. “This is a monumental breakthrough in science, you know... and this is Prospero’s™ property, rather than ARC’s, so could you please vacate the premises?” A couple of rather burly guards appeared from behind Burton to reinforce his request.
For his own part, Becker was sure that they could take them, even if they appeared to be more professional than the ARC’s field team was. But, looking at Connor’s rather frantic and worried (now Connor was worried, eh?) he exchanged looks with the others, and withdrew.* * *
“You know, maybe we should go and check on Connor and the others,” Dawn told Buffy meanwhile as the Summers’ sisters and their friends had their breakfast. “And I’m not saying this just because it would be more exciting than just to stay here and cut down the knotgrass...”
The door flew inwards on its hinges, as if kicked by a mighty foot... what actually did occur. A rather big and angry-looking minotaur (or some other human-water buffalo hybrid) stood in the now-vacant doorway.
“Slayer!” it howled, waving around a rather deadly-looking battleaxe. “Prepare to meet your doom!”
“That’s what you think,” Buffy muttered, as she glared at her sister and pulled out a longsword of her own. “Others than you have tried.”
The minotaur charged.* * *
“Connor, how could you!” Abby turned to her boyfriend as he finally parted Philip’s company to rejoin the ARC’s field team. “This, this thing is probably against everything that the ARC stands for!”
“Abby, please!” Connor waved his hands, trying to placate the blonde. “I and Philip are trying to change the world!”
“Connor, Nick didn’t try to change the world, Helen did – and she failed,” Abby glared back.
“No, she was trying to change the future,” Connor said sourly, “or maybe she did succeed, only we’re not aware of it – remember when Nick returned from the late Permian and claimed that Jenny was actually somebody else?”
“...Anyways,” Emily interjected before the young couple could go into an all-out argument, “Connor, Philip is trying to change the world without asking the world’s permission, and that is wrong: according to Dr. Freud-“
“Ah,” Connor said quickly, as he tried to figure out when exactly Emily Merchant came in contact with Dr. Freud, “look. What’s the big worry? A T-Rex’s toe wouldn’t fit through the time anomaly me and Philip have manifested, we got it all under control-“
It was then that Jess called them to the view of the camera installed in Connor’s office, and Connor, as well as the others, had a rare and highly dubious pleasure of seeing one of Prospero’s™ security guards devoured alive by a swarm of futuristic beetles.
“Jess,” Matt whispered desperately, “sound the evacuation.”
“I already did that,” Jess muttered back, “and have initiated the lockdown sequence-“
And the doors of the ARC building came down, hard, essentially interlocking and segregating the building into separate fragments.
“Guys?” Abby said in a small voice, “aren’t we cut-off from the time anomaly’s site in this way?”
“Yes, but the beetles are isolated from us as well,” Jess turned to reassure her friend, when she noticed something on screen. “Err, maybe not.” Even from the camera’s point of view the vision of the beetles starting to effectively chew through the walls of Connor’s office was quite clear. “This is unbelievable!”
“Can’t you – I don’t know – maybe start the ceiling sprinklers or something to slow them down?” Abby asked, sounding desperate.
“Too risky,” Jess sounded not much better than Abby herself. “They’re getting to the wiring, one wrong electric current, and we’ll have an electric fire on top of it... oops, too late!” she added, as some sort of an alarm resonated through the ARC’s building again. “We’re doomed!”
Everybody just stared at her. “Do you have to be so camp about it?” Abby finally asked. “I mean, yes, we’re often doomed, but usually we figure out some sort of a solution before the ac-tual doom descends upon us-“
“Can this work?” Becker asked suddenly, as he pulled out Helen’s time anomaly manifestation device from one of his pockets and a thin bundle of instructions from the other. “As a starting point, that is?”
“Yes, yes it can!” Connor said excitedly. “How’d you get it, by the way?”
“Eh, she loaned it to me, actually – apparently she had some sort of a premonition,” Becker admitted sheepishly. “So, how can we use it to – Connor?”
“Aha, that’s what I need!” Connor was leafing through Helen’s instructions and pressing a se-quence of buttons on the actual device. “This should do the trick nicely...”
As Jess and others could see from the camera screen, the future beetle-contaminated chamber suddenly exploded in the chromatically white light of a time anomaly – and when it faded, the beetles were gone, just as the time anomaly... and everything else in Connor’s office was.
After a long amount of silence when nothing was being sad very loudly, Abby finally spoke. “Connor, what have you done?”
“First increased the time anomaly’s radius to draw in all of the beetles, and then I reversed it to close it and send the beetles back to their time – alongside anything else that got in the way,” Connor said, slightly sheepishly... before the building shook, as the room, now free from time anomalies, imploded upon itself: the walls, the ceiling, et cetera.
“What is going on here?” James Lester’s choice of time to return from his superiors was impeccable. “Connor, was it something that you have done?”
Connor just gulped, and listened, as Abby and the others explained just what he – and Philip Burton, of course – did.TBC