End Times

The Compound
The Gadget

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The Compound

It was only logical that the irresponsible nuke thieves should exist in the same time period that the rip led to.

Model – 3417 analyzed the atmosphere and found carbon emissions inconsistent with their current era. Wooly mammoths were not known for smog. From a nearby rock outcropping a hundred yards from a hastily, yet decently defended wall, the agents looked on their enemy.

“Mattix just had to be called back to HQ, didn’t he?” commented Murdoch. With their more militant comrade now fourteen thousand years ahead in time they were going to have to wing it, and resort to more subtle methods of infiltration.

A large metal hoop with a sixty-foot techno-cannon pointed at it hung from a crane in the center of the complex. Below it was a mess of metal, the remnants of the tower that had been stolen along with the world’s first nuke. A throng of scientists worked hastily to determine its viability as soldiers marched around the complex like angry ants.

As they pulled the Gadget onto the bed of a truck, one of the scientists, a woman, argued with a soldier.

“We need more time!” she shouted. Model – 3417’s tether broadcast the conversation from what little it could pick up from the laser bouncing off of a nearby pane of glass. “It’ll take at least a day to repair the machine.”

The soldier snarled back, “Chen says he wants those Russian nukes by tomorrow evening.”

“Well you tell that brain in a box that I can’t perform miracles! The wormhole projector is very sensitive equipment.”

He leaned into her space, brandishing his rifle, “That ‘brain-in-the-box pays you well, and you’d do well to do what he says. Unless you want to be dismissed from the project?”

The doctor looked on in disgust as the Gadget was hurried into the hanger in the rear of the compound.

Doctor Hirsch went through a few scenarios in his head before speaking up. One thing was for sure, they needed to get in the compound.

“The walls are too well guarded. If we come back yesterday before the theft we can stop it before it happens.”

“And then find out who this Chen character is?” asked Murdoch. “I say we sabotage that nuke so it goes off right after they bring it over here with that time vacuum. Boom. End of story.”

“But history would be forever changed if the Gadget isn’t returned to its proper time,” added Model – 3417.

Murdoch rolled his eyes. The android was right, even if it weren’t a time period he cared much for.

Infiltrating the Base

They agreed on a plan of action, and set forth. The good thing about prehistory was very little changed when you messed with it. Model – 3417 traveled back to a calculated time and set a series of events in motion that made the weather optimal for their infiltration. When the android traveled back to the compound, the night before the nuke was to be stolen, a thick fog had settled over the landscape.

Murdoch led he fellow agents to the wall with grappling hooks. They slung them at the three guards above them, and pulled them to the ground. After stealing their uniforms, the agents climbed the walls and slipped into the compound with relative ease.

Doctor Hirsch made his way to the hanger as his comrades examined the time vacuum. Inside he didn’t see the Gadget, instead he saw a time rip leading directly into what appeared to be a skyscraper overlooking a large body of water, surrounded by desert. He nodded to the soldiers nonchalantly as he walked back to the rendezvous. Just as he thought. There was a back door.

Meanwhile, Model – 3417 walked into the laboratory and tracked down a computer terminal where it could learn more about what was going on. As it did so, taking on the disguise of a woman militant, somebody tapped on its shoulder.

“Excuse me. I know everyone here, but I don’t know you,” asked the woman from before, the lead scientist.

The android paused uncomfortably, listening to Murdoch’s instructions over the comm to act superior.

“I was sent here by chen,” Model – 3417 told her sternly. “He wants to be sure that tomorrow’s delivery of the Gadget is on schedule.”

“And he didn’t trust me enough to ask? Typical,” said the doctor. “What do you need.”

“Manifests,” said Model – 3417, then added with Murdoch’s insistence, “And communications logs between your staff and Chen.”

“He doesn’t have that on his end?”

“Lady, I was told to come here and get it myself.”

The scientist pushed Model – 3417 out of the way, letting the android roll into the wall gently. She tapped frantically at the keyboard and the printer spun to life.

“Hard copies, like our boss prefers. It’s so antiquated, paper. We will be stealing the Gadget at 3:00 tomorrow, Dubai time. Is there anything else?”

The woman poised herself between Model – 3417 and the computer. The android left, having gotten more than it was looking for. Doctor Hirsch hummed over the mic, “Dubai? Now what I saw makes sense. Lets see what we can do about tomorrow’s theft.”

Under the cover of night and fog the three, disguised now as scientists, huddled behind the large cannon as Model – 3417 interfaced with the primitive time travel device. It was clear to each of them that these scientists were dealing with what was the equivalent to magic for them.

“If I rig the batteries to overload during the theft, nobody will be the wiser. They will never be able to fix this device from the ensuing explosion.”

After several seconds, the android found itself locked out of that section of the system. It appeared that such a form of sabotage had been identified and protected from. None of them wanted to make it obvious.

“We could just break it, physically,” added Hirsch and Murdoch.

“The coolant tanks,” said Model – 3417, as if it didn’t hear them. “I can cause them to leak, corrode the circuitry, and tomorrow’s results will be less than optimal. Does this sound reasonable?”

Hirsch and Murdoch looked at one another an shrugged. Somewhere deep down, Murdoch still wanted to detonate the nuke and screw the consequences.

Several minutes later the device had been rigged, the sabotage was complete. It was time to confront Chen.

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A Rip in Time
The Gadget

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Moths to a Flame

Four days into the desert, the origin of the creature was discovered. Located in a shallow ravine, a rip in time was slowly stitching itself shut again. The smell of an ancient era tainted the air around the agents.

“The Veil’s thin here, like a quilt with its stuffing sticking out,” said Erasmus as they studied the site. The group came to a consensus. They had to discover exactly where this rip in time came from.

Erasmus determined that the rip was a residual effect from a much larger event fifty kilometers out. Mattix sniffed as he peeked over his shoulder at his tether. The Trinity site was the source of all of this aggravation.

He slapped the doctor on the shoulder with an open palm, “Open it up. I want to see what’s on the other side.”

Previous experience, and previous teammates who were no longer among them, unnerved the group. The doctor and Model-3417 held onto Mattix’s belt as he peeked through. On the other hand, Murdoch stayed far away, and crawled to the top of the ravine to catch a smoke and scout the surrounding area.

Atop the ridge was an open-topped U.S. Army jeep with three dead soldiers. Closer examination yielded a horrifying realization: these corpses gave birth to more creatures, days ago. His cigarette fell from his lips. On the other side of the ravine three smaller versions of the same creature, small as in man-sized, were charging toward the ravine.

“Moths to the flame,” he said, taking an assault rifle off of the soldier and crouching behind the rear fender. “Guys we have company!”

He took a shot, but the creatures were running much too fast. By the time Erasmus and Model-3417 turned around, the creatures had leapt through the air and were in their faces, nipping at them with gore-encrusted teeth.

Mattix reached through the rift and pulled his two teammates through. Model-3417 was quick to operate on the rift, sealing it as quickly and efficiently as it could, as Mattix relayed to Murdoch where and when to travel to, so they could regroup.

The coordinates barely reached Murdoch’s tether before the rift closed and cut one of the creatures in half. The other two sniffed the air, and charged up the ravine. They leapt into the air to pounce, and surprise the ex-private eye only to find he’d thrown a grenade at their feet.

Mindlessly determined, the creatures inched forward leaving entrails behind them as they sought their prey. Murdoch cursed them before firing up his autochron. It was time to make sure these little horrors were never born.

Trinity

Twelve hours until the rift opens.

The agents were preparing an ambush in the ravine when they realized they had time to see what anomaly caused this rift to begin with. They traveled to the Trinity site, and from a high-up ridge watched the military and scientists scurrying around like ants as they hung the world’s first nuclear weapon, a weapon from which they knew not what to expect, from a high metal tower.

Everything looked normal to them. No supernatural entities. No strange readings or time distortions. From the look of it, the bomb was going to go off as scheduled.

A small compartment opened in Model-3417’s forearm. Three tiny microdrones, each no larger than a dragon fly, emerged and sync’ed with its CPU. Tonight, as they ambushed the creature, it would know exactly what would happen at the Trinity site.

The agents camped at the ravine for the next several hours. Doctor Erasmus performed a ritual, carving a large pentagram where the creature was to step through, and lit a dozen beeswax candles while performing an ancient ritual to trap the beast.

“I’m not sure I trust this magic crap,” said Murdoch as he and Mattix watched the ritual taking place. It wasn’t so much that they didn’t believe in it. They lived it and witnessed it on countless occasions. But as men of action they needed something more grounded in reality to make them feel like the situation was under control.

As the winds kicked up, and rain began to fall, they jimmied a lock on a shed in a nearby ranch. Inside was enough chain for them to create a net to make sure the creature didn’t get away, despite the doctor’s insistence that his ritual would freeze the creature in place.

The agents sheltered themselves below a rock outcropping. The rain beat down on them. The wind ripped at them. Each flash of lightning blinded them.

Readings from Model-3417’s drones spiked. In the Trinity site it saw a large pulsating sphere of light with crackling purple lightning envelop the tower. Within seconds the Gadget had vanished, along with the shack mounted above it, containing the guard who was babysitting the nuke overnight.

When it came to, to inform her teammates, they were celebrating. The creature had stopped mid scream, frozen in time with a chain mesh over it. Mattix was getting too much enjoyment out of dismembering the beast with a chainsaw.

“It would be so much easier to simply banish it,” said the doctor.

“Ha!” said Mattix. “But then we wouldn’t know if it can fit in Tupperware, now would we?”

The team wavered for a moment. The universe was correcting itself after they stopped it. Here, four days before it ever reached Tularosa, they had slain it. Less than a day from now this beast was supposed to kill three U.S. Army soldiers in a jeep patrolling for axis spies assumed to have stolen the Gadget from the Trinity site. The world around them, however brief, became unreal.

“Whoever stole the nuke is in the Holocene,” announced Model-3417. The nuke had been stolen through time travel, and this rift was a byproduct. It made sense they could step through and avoid damaging the Veil anymore than it already was.

Somewhere in prehistory they would find the culprits responsible.

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Creature Zero
The Gadget

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The Call

The world changed in 2486. From atop the Citadel, TimeWatch watched the world change.

The city was a staging ground for the military, hustling to keep up with a population of creatures contained on the other side of a hundred foot cement wall. The entire North American Southwest was lost centuries earlier, along with Mexico. An infestation of sword-toothed chitinous mutants were on the other side, and finally their population had grown to such and extent that no wall, and no show of force, could keep their legions at bay.

“That wall never existed ten minutes ago,” said their handler, a young Indian woman dressed in white.

The team was dispatched. They fired up their autochrons and fell backward through the time stream.

July 1945: Tularosa, NM

The investigation had taken more time than anticipated. Each jump through time brought more horrors to the fore, and each time they had to deal with the creatures unleashed on innocent populations. Each jump had the potential to rip open the veil and unleash untold horrors from the great beyond.

Creature Zero, the first one of these monstrosities to cross the veil and begin the infestation, was traced to Tularosa, NM in 1945. The world came into focus around the team as time caught up to them, or did they catch up to time? It was difficult to tell.

Men, women, and children were running around scared and screaming. The ten foot beast was gnawing on a corpse in the middle of the street when an old sheriff with a beer gut opened fire. The creature roared and looked up from its meal.

Murdoch pulled the butt of the rifle snugly to his shoulder. They were prepared, having faced several of these things in the past few days. His first shot grazed the beast. He cursed under his breath.

Their android companion, Model 3417, moved out of the alley and behind a parked car. She opened fire with a small firearm. It chirped, and a blue bolt of energy blasted a hole in its carapace.

The beast was atop a car, and knocked the sheriff into the window of the local diner.

“Doctor, bring him this way,” said Mattix as he revved up the chainsaw he’d found so effective the day before.

Doctor Hirsch’s eyes lit with a devil’s light as he repeated an incantation to read the creature’s thoughts. They never responded well to this, but this was the only way to save the sheriff’s life.

The creature cocked its head in their direction. It was a blur as it charged down the street at them, knocking parked cars aside like plastic toys. Mattix stepped into the mad charge and cut into the creature’s hamstring with his chainsaw. In a lethal exchange, he brought the chainsaw into the thing’s chest but the blades were deflected aside by the thing’s breastplate.

The rest of the team opened fire again, and Mattix barely leapt out of the way as it tried biting him. The bite came with such force that it shattered the manhole at Mattix’s feet, its maw stuck in the metal tube.

Black tendrils of nanites reached out from Model 3417’s arms, and connected its power supply to that of the chainsaw. The sudden boost was enough that Mattrix was able to decapitate it in front of the entire town.

“Dadgum,” cursed the sheriff, stroking his magnificent moustache. “Ain’t that the ugliest cow I ever seen?”

“Cow, nothing,” said Murdoch, searching his brain for a better, more convincing story, “It’s a mutated dog. Or Rhinoceros.”

“Rhino, more like,” said the sheriff, perplexed.

Bystanders were looking over the decapitated beast. Doctor Hirsch was urging them away as he examined it. Up the street, the slain must be infected with eggs. It appeared that this creature had recently discharged its egg sacs.

“It stinks,” said a kid in disgust. Another whispered, “Do you think those scientists we saw made these? Those government types?”

“Yea,” said Murdoch to the crowd. “And government types will want to eradicate anyone who knows about their experiments. Sheriff, everyone, its best to keep your mouths shut if you value the lives of your families. We’ll take care of this thing so nobody knows about it.”

As they prepped the bodies, and disposed of them, Mattix and Model 3417 tracked the destruction to the edge of town. Its tracks trailed off into the endless desert.

If they were going to find the rift it came from, and close it, they were going to have to follow these tracks all of the way, and who knew how many more were out there in the New Mexican desert?

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