Others, 47

Even the Most Dedicated Crime Fighters Might Use Unorthodox Means in Dire Situations

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“I’ve been saying for…” Rhonda Peregrine looks at a device on her wrist. “A cumulative total of eleven staff meetings that it’s foolish to try and establish a timeline of the Involuted Clock’s appearances. We can say that this is its most recent one, or maybe it’s the first one, who knows and more importantly, it really honestly doesn’t matter.”

“I must disagree.” Omtal Wake nods, all six of its eyes on Rhonda. “Establishing a pattern for the Clock’s appearances lets us predict its behaviour.”

“That’s simply not true.”

“Perhaps to you,” Omtal Wake says. It shudders its entire exogel. “But not all species are quite so blinded by chaos as is yours. The important thing here is recovering the Clock…”

“Which you lost.” Over the time he’s known Rhonda Peregrine, Kelvin has learned that when she examines the soft claws on her fingers, it isn’t to assess their sharpness, but rather to communicate disdain. “One of many objects that disappeared into your department before vanishing from the Bureau entirely.”

That, says Omtal Wake, bloating, “is not a related matter.”

“If you hadn’t let the Clock vanish, this would never have happened,” disagrees Teneven Tepla Takk, her telepathic voice resonating in all their hearts. “The ongoing security issues in your department are of considerable concern to the Bureau’s security, Omtal Wake.”

“What matters,” says Kelvin, in half a hiss, “is that one of my lieutenants has gone missing. I don’t care about predicting the Clock’s behaviour or categorizing it or learning how it disappeared from the Department of Temporal Coherence. I want to know when it is so that we can recover my officer and ten civilians.”

There is an uncomfortable silence. Finally, Omtal Wake says, “There has been no evidence of timeline distortion anywhere detectable. Wherever they have appeared, it didn’t cause a ripple.”

“The temporal distortions caused by entity five-five-three haven’t been fully mapped yet,” says Rhonda Peregrine. “They don’t reach far but my people report that they’re fairly deep. It’s very possible Lieutenant Johnson and the others ended up not far away.”

“How possible?” Kelvin demands.

She hesitates, tapping her unireader. “Probability six percent.”

Kelvin tries not to let his ears go flat, but can’t stop his tail from fluffing up. “So we have no idea where they are. Permission to depart?” he asks the Bureau Chief, at the head of the table.

“No need,” says the Chief, voice only half in the room. “The meeting is dismissed. We will meet again once we have some actual answers. Captain Peregrine, finish mapping the temporal distortions and find out when the Clock went. Captain Omtal Wake, check the secondary verses for distortions.”

“That will take…”

“I do not care. Captain Tepla, a word. The rest of you are dismissed. The task force meeting will convene in three points.”

He doesn’t say what task force. The Bureau has several, but only one dedicated to stopping the hyper-powerful entities from beyond time that sometimes try to invade the universe. There’s a new one and it’s causing chaos somewhen and somewhere, and it seems to have the ability to stop time.

Kelvin is on that task force, but for now he flicks an ear as he hops off his chair, heading for the door. Outside is one of Teneven Tepla Takk’s lieutenants, which doesn’t surprise Kelvin. “Your captain is speaking with the chief,” Kelvin tells him.

Lieutenant Syber Python nods. “Yes, sir. Is…there any news about Lieutenant Johnson?”

“No.” Kelvin sees that he’s disengaged his affect protocol, and sighs. “Most of what happened is classified, but we’re still looking for him. I’m going to organize a search.”

“Okay. If Captain Tepla approves the overtime, I’d like to help.”

They’d gone through training together, Syber Python and Bob. “If she does, report to my office and I’ll assign you to a search team.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Kelvin gestures for him to bend down, then pats his head. “He’s coming back.”

“Okay.” Syber Python’s segmented eyes change to a slightly warmer colour at that.

“I’d like your search teams equipped with non-Euclidian cartometers,” says Rhonda Peregrine, coming up behind Kelvin. “If they’re travelling through the wake of five-five-three, I’d like to use them to pick up some readings on the way.”

“Fine, but their primary mission isn’t finding readings for you,” Kelvin says, eyeing her. She’s tall for her species, nearly twice Kelvin’s height.


“Finding one missing officer shouldn’t be anyone’s primary mission when a whole timeline was altered,” Omtal Wake complains, sludging out of the meeting room behind them.

Kelvin shows his fangs. “Fortunately we don’t all work for you, Omtal Wake. No temporal crimes were committed on Nova. Temporally locked civilians using technology native to their planet and timeline can alter time all they want.”

“They actually cannot, especially not by inviting an alien creature into their orbit.”

“They can as far as the Department of Temporal Law Enforcement is concerned. The fallout is your problem. Try not to erase any nations this time.”

“You may be as sarcastic as you wish. I’ll remind you that the very officer whom you are missing is the same one whose incompetence caused that particular catastrophe.”

“And I’ll remind you that you still owe me and the Department of Discipline an explanation for why your officers aided and abetted time mafia activity during that mission,” Kelvin says, not looking at Omtal Wake.

All its gel going stiff, Omtal Wake chooses to disengage, sliming down a hallway away from Kelvin. “It’s going to try and have you arrested someday, you know,” says Rhonda Peregrine.

“It’s welcome to try, everyone with temporal handcuffs works for me. I have a meeting.”

“Okay. I’ll call you if I find anything.”

Kelvin flicks his ear at her, knowing that she means that. She was largely responsible for Bob’s training. There are lots of people in the Bureau who want to know where Bob is and have him come back, and not just because he’s with the Involuted fucking Clock.

In his department’s space, he heads to his office. He passes by Michael Bloodcliff’s desk. Michael looks up at him, in the middle of explaining different kinds of temporal smuggling to the two new recruits who are doing a rotation in Temporal Law Enforcement, and Kelvin gives a shake of his head. Michael exhales loudly but doesn’t miss a beat in talking at the recruits.

“I’m going to be in a meeting with some contacts to try and find Lieutenant Johnson,” Kelvin tells Nadrakan H-vk. He’s put him temporarily in charge of Bob’s squad until they find him. “I’ll be back shortly.”

“Okay,” says Nadrakan, twitching several mandibles. “Please keep us posted, Captain.”

“I will,” Kelvin promises, and he goes into his office, locking the door behind him and engaging all the privacy screens.

He stands at his desk and closes his eyes. He can feel himself detaching. Bob being missing—fucking again—is making him do the same thing he saw Syber Python doing. Shutting down his affect so that he can focus on work.

But Kelvin isn’t an android and he learned a long time ago that detaching his emotions doesn’t help him focus. It makes him slow, makes him make mistakes. He’s not supposed to be looking at this from a detached, emotionless perspective. The Involuted Clock isn’t a mark Kelvin can assassinate. One of his people has been kidnapped and Kelvin needs to be angry about that, because otherwise he’ll end up agreeing with the assessments of the ever-objective Omtal Wake and saying that the sanctity of the timeline is more important then one officer’s life.

Kelvin is tired of losing people for the greater good.

He opens his eyes, taps a code into his console to lock down his office further, and then visualizes the coordinates for home. Kelvin vanishes from his office, and appears on the doorstep of a spiralling tower on a cliff. He wanted to live on a mountain like where he’d been born, and Wendel had wanted to live near the ocean, so Kelvin had found a mountainside that overlooked an endless sea with dark clouds in the distant horizon.

He goes inside the tower, snorting as he sees boots and a coat on the floor inside the door. He puts them away, checking the coat’s pockets to make sure there are enough snacks in them. Satisfied with that, he heads upstairs. He knows where Wendel will be.

On the roof, Wendel is sitting cross-legged in front of a chair, watching the sea. Kelvin comes up and sits in the chair. Immediately Wendel leans back, rubbing his cheek against Kelvin’s legs. “I missed you.”

“I’m sorry I was late,” Kelvin says, his uniform disappearing so Wendel can feel his fur. He tugs Wendel’s ear.

“I think they’re closer today,” Wendel says, looking out at the sea. Or rather at the dark clouds.

Kelvin nods. “They’re still a thousand talk away.”

“I know. Worlds usually end more slowly than this.”

“Yeah.” Kelvin smiles. “I’ve told you about the Tan’Tell, right?”

Kelvin can’t see his husband’s face, but he knows Wendel is frowning. “Yes. The ones your people hunted to extinction?”

“It was a different time,” Kelvin says, reflexively. “But yes. They were canids too.”

“Uh…does that mean they tasted good?”

“No,” Kelvin snickers. “It means they were dogs.”

“Oh.” Wendel’s tail is wagging now. “So they tasted good!”

“No, they were loud and smelled bad and my people didn’t recognize them as civilized, though they probably were. So we killed them all. It was an evil thing for us to do. Sometimes I think it’s why the Storms came.”

“I don’t, uh, think that leptoclastic radiation storms start because a species is mean, Kel.”

In fact, at least in this case, they start because a species experiments with weapons of planetary destruction when they find out their nearest solar neighbours are preparing to enter a galactic alliance. Kelvin bats at Wendel’s ear. “You don’t know anything.” He did, actually. Wendel was really smart, though usually only once he’d been sat down and hit with a strap a few times to remind him to be. “Anyway, I just think sometimes about the poetry of there being a canid on Jell’Kill at the end of its lifespan.”

“Do…those things rhyme?”

Kelvin laughs out loud. “I missed you too, Wendel.”

Wendel nods, resting his head against Kelvin’s knee. “The Involuted Clock disappeared one of my operatives from Nova.”

Oh. Kelvin looks down at him. “One of mine, too,” he says quietly. “We can’t find him.”



“Okay.” Wendel reaches a hand up and takes Kelvin’s, some information passing between two terminals as they take comfort from each other. Kelvin shares some information back.

“Oh,” says Kelvin, processing the data the time mafia operative had sent Wendel before disappearing. “Shit.”


“These readings are…”

“The Clock, I know. I thought you could make something of why they were weaker than usual.”

“They’re not the Clock,” Kelvin says, looking closely. He’s seen a report on something like this in one of his case files. “They’re a form of temporal travel that we hypothesize is similar to the Clock. They showed up in a theft from one of our labs a while back. The object that was stolen was officially classified as a nonlogical artefact, but Rhonda Peregrine is certain it came from the other side of the Split.”

“They’re…the readings that were generated at the exact moment when Kozna broke through into our timeline,” Wendel says quietly. “Do you think that means Kozna is a time thief?”

Kozna is the native name for five-five-three. Kelvin doesn’t blame Wendel for calling it by its actual name. He’s a native of Nova too. “No, but it means that Kozna and our thief travelled the same way and probably came from the same place. And that place was probably…”

“Totally inaccessible to all time travellers,” Wendel finishes. He sighs. “Okay. I have an idea but it’s illegal.”

All your ideas manage to be illegal,” Kelvin chides him. “You can’t order dinner without breaking temporal law.”

“Well, you try getting pizza delivered to a planet in the middle of a slow apocalypse fourteen thousand years after the only species to ever invent pizza have gone extinct.” Wendel turns around, looking up at Kelvin with big eyes. His tail is still wagging, and now that Kelvin can see his other hand, he has some temporal handcuffs in it, which he holds out hopefully. “Since my idea is illegal, you should arrest me.”

Kelvin takes the cuffs, and cuffs Wendel’s ears with them. “It’s only illegal if you do it.”

“I’m going to do it. Also I ordered pizza. Also I’m horny.”

“Why are you this horny in a crisis?”

“I can’t help it, the moon is out!”

“Wendel,” Kelvin says, sliding a claw out to touch Wendel’s cheek with. “My planet has no moon. What’s left of your moon is halfway across the galaxy. You can’t use the moon as an excuse.”

“Oh.” Wendel looks down, then up, nuzzling Kelvin’s dick sheath now. “I guess I’m just a bad boy. I can’t remember all the parts of the plan, Kel. I know it started with a stash of temporal contraband I, uh, found in the Speli Nebula and also includes a paradox splitter I might own and never told you about, but then I forget the rest.”

Of course he can’t. Kelvin puts the handcuffs on one of his wrists. “That’s very naughty of you, Wendel. Lives are at stake.”

“I know. I’m really sorry, I’ll never do temporal crimes again.”

Until the next time he’s hungry, no doubt. Kelvin smiles. “We’ll see about that. I’d like you to do a few for me. With me.” He handcuffs Wendel to the chair. “Time for you to smarten up and tell me the plan.”

And whatever it is, Kelvin isn’t going to let him go it alone. Not this time. This is too important, and both of them will fix it, together.

Before he starts disciplining Wendel, Kelvin looks out at the horizon. The Storms do look a little closer. Lepton breakdown tends to alter the flow of time, so maybe they’ll be here a little faster than he thought.

But it doesn’t matter. There are still lifetimes until then, and none of those lifetimes will be spent alone.

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4 thoughts on “Others, 47

  1. “ He’s not supposed to be looking at this from a detached, emotional perspective”

    I assume you meant emotionLESS?


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