As our story opens, Krohn has started pulling the air out of the dungeon lab where Bragg and Colt are.
Colt: Idiot! Here, my suit's robotics can shut the vents; get the welding equipment.
Bragg: Okay, but it doesn't make much difference. He can just wait us out. Unless you have some kind of rebreather technology in there.
Colt: Of course I do. It won't be fun, but we'll be ready for Krohn whenever he shows up—if he's fairly prompt, anyway.
In the year 2934, a man furiously turns off his commstation. A note mentions that the dialog is translated from "Komun Inlis," the primary language of the time.
Antrez: The fools! Even when the evidence is right in front of them, they still refuse to believe!
Mandar: You're questioning Touchstone's integrity. One of the first things we learn at the Academy is that Touchstone can't fail.
Antrez: But you know different.
Mandar: No, it can't fail, but it can modulate, and that will destroy our civilization. You'd think the minds that gave us the Technology Protocols would have warned against basing our civilization on any one technology.
Antrez: There's only one solution. I should see you soon.
Mandar: Oh, no—I'm coming along. You need an expert on temporal engineering.
Antrez: This won't be time travel. I'll just follow Touchstone back to the source of the anomaly and tweak it; I'll be in contact with our time throughout the operation.
Mandar: I built the temporal connector and a lot of other components. I'm coming along. Besides, the anomaly is technically outside of Touchstone. Anything could happen.
Antrez: Which is why you're bringing all the survival gear.
Mandar: I like to be prepared. I just wish we knew exactly when the anomaly started—and how. But then, that's why you got me involved—to tell you what neither of us can figure out.
The two approach a heavily modified personal cruiser. After a complicated initialization ritual, the cruiser disappears with them inside. They approach the anomaly, and Antrez begins work.
Antrez: I knew it! The anomaly isn't natural!
Mandar: That's what my studies said, but no one this far back could mess up the universe like that.
Antrez: I believe we're in the twenty-first century, so I can think of a few who could. I wish we could go back and send a drone; this will be very delicate and dangerous work. But we're here, and I doubt we could get the right placement again.
Mandar: That's okay. Just get it done! Our time field is beginning to destabilize.
Antrez: There! The main repair is done: the anomaly will wrap back on itself like a Moebius strip. It's closed.
Mandar: Doesn't that cut us off?
Antrez: Only probably. Pull us back, now!
Krone: Mr. Bragg, I have changed my mind. Your resourcefulness has gone from intriguing to irritating, so I shall refrain from opening your prison for a week or two. That should make you safe to dispose of.
Bragg: You'll never be safe from me, Krohn!
Krohn: On the contrary, I look forward to converting you to a piñata or some other entertaining—
Colt [fiddling with the speaker]: There—that should shut him up. Why bother answering him?
Bragg: I'll set up a booby trap he won't believe.
Colt: But which he will expect. I, on the other hand, am going to escape and pound him myself.
Colt: Invisibility isn't my only hobby. You know about quantum tunneling: all objects may be analyzed as wave events, and if an object's waveform extends beyond a barrier, there is a chance that the object will suddenly appear on the other side without crossing the intervening space.
Bragg: Only the waveform extends about a trillionth as far as the walls are thick.
Colt: So I tweak it. Have you forgotten I'm a genius?
Bragg: I could have. You only mention it on your Website, Facebook, blog, business card, and voice mail. It's not like you have it on your shirts.
Colt: That just shows your ignorance of my wardrobe.
Mandar: I'm losing the connection!
Antrez: Well, connect to something! Anything! Otherwise we'll be stranded here for—
Bragg: You really think this will work?
Colt: Of course. This prototype was only supposed to shoot some of my nanobots through a wall, but it needed tweaking anyway. And that should be easy to do. I'll just have it club our part of the universe senseless long enough for me to play a quantum practical joke on it.
Bragg: I bet the universe will be a poor sport when it comes to.
Colt: So will Krohn—this should pull enough power to blow out his electrical system. There. And now, in the words of every great inventor and explorer, watch this!
[Black panel with two word balloons]
Mandar: There's only one thing strong enough to grab! Hold on—we're losing the cruiser!
[Black panel again]
Antrez: Wi bi wa-ples?
Colt [turning on a light on his suit]: Who are you, and where'd you come from?
Mandar: Pardon my friend. He doesn't speak English yet. Here, Antrez, put this translator on.
Antrez: Who are you? Mandar, where—?
Mandar: The disturbance was the only thing strong enough to home in on.
Antrez: You mean you fools decided to mess with universal constants? You nearly destroyed Touchstone, the basis of all future civilization.
Bragg: Pretty impressive goof even for Derek Colt.
Colt: Okay, I'm sorry already. I was just trying to save our lives.
Antrez: You're Derek Colt? I should've known: one of the only people in this primitive age with the brilliance and recklessness to do such a thing! And all you can say is "Sorry"?
Colt: All right, I'm even more sorry that any descendants I might have will be stupid enough to base an entire civilization on one technology.
Mandar: Agreed. But wait—if you're Derek Colt, who's the other guy? And where are your friends?
Bragg: Conner Bragg. We're kind of short on friends—and air, too, now that you've started breathing it. Krohn pulled a lot of it out before we could stop him. At least he'll go to his grave a mighty puzzled man when he finds you here.
Mandar: But if he's Darklight and you're Titan...
Colt: How did you know my prototype name?
Mandar [talking to himself]: They all appeared at the same time, didn't they? So where are Tachyon and Micromegas? And Krohn... [He looks at Antrez.]
Antrez: We can't change history.
Mandar: Don't you understand? We are history now! There's no way back, and I'm the temporal engineer.
Colt: So what's all that mean?
Mandar [gasping for air as he rummages through a bag]: It means that he is Micromegas, and I am Tachyon.
Tune in tomorrow for Micromegas!
1 year ago