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   Chapter 2 No.2

The Time Saving Agency By Christina Engela Characters: 6231

Updated: 2018-06-29 12:02

For this was a man who stood out from the crowd, a Time Terrorist extraordinaire. A man who took all the resources of the Time Saving Agency to capture, well who knows when – years ago, or in a time still to come? A man who wrought chaos and devastation across three millennia simply for the fun of it. Just because he could. Rumor had it he was one of the first to invent time travel – and the irony of the whole thing was that this man was one of the founders of the TSA itself. How he ended up here was, needless to say, ironic - and naturally, well-deserved. These people all got here at the end of what everyone assumed was a one-way trip. But just because the TSA considered being sent to the Limbo Practicale to be a one-way trip, didn't mean that it really was. After all, a trip between two points, a point of origin and a destination may seem linear in a one-way sense – but time is rather pliable under certain circumstances, and especially if the flow of it is reversed.

Time did exist here, in small amounts (well some of the time) – and there were feint eddies and currents of time here, things that were barely tangible. Feint forces of the universe they were, nearly indiscernible from the nothingness like a warm breeze on a hot summer night. How long he had been here, he knew not – but he was slowly learning to master these barely tangible waves like a new surfer with one foot on the sandy beach and the other on a shiny new board of Hatred. Revenge splashed around his feet like the cold waves of the ocean of Time. Nearby, two other inmates collided with each other, bounced apart spread-eagled and spiraled off into the distance in infinite slowness. The Wetsuit of Insanity clung to his spiritual body, isolating him from the timelessness that seemed to exist here. A wind of Change blew at him from behind and he pushed off from the beach with iron determination and a mental clarity hereto before unknown to him. Something in the microcosm that didn't even have a name went 'bling' and against all the laws of probability, Brad Xyl opened his eyes.

* * *

In the grand scheme of things, Deanna was just a footnote in the Anals of History. (Some of you are thinking 'perhaps that was a typo? Surely it should be annals', but no.) Deanna was a small planet, almost the size of good old Earth, but unlike Earth, Deanna had much more land than ocean. The central ocean was a lot like the Pacific, only landlocked, shallow, and fresh. Braking dolphins swam in shoals of hundreds in the warm shallow oceans. The funny little dolphin-like creatures were air breathers – and marsupials. Their pouches tended to cause a little too much hydrodynamic drag and slowed them down, hence their name. They had no natural predators, but could sometimes almost starve to death trying to catch faster prey. Braking dolphins darted peacefully in and out of the serene and beautiful coral reefs in the shallower parts of the Greater Equatorial Fishbowl, the larger part of the Landlocked Ocean.

Deanna, the planet which is the setting for our story, orbits a medium sized star called Ramalama. Deann

a has two small moons in close orbit. Only a few decades earlier the first settlers to reach Deanna named them Ding and Dong in some misguided attempt at humor when they arrived, and found to their dismay that there was very little at all to laugh at here. (Crabby-grass may seem funny, unless you're barefoot and standing on it.) Dong is just a lump of plain rock about a kilometer around. Ding on the other hand, is a sphere of solid titanium ore fifty feet in diameter.

Just two months prior, a Ruminarii warship (that just happened to be invading Deanna at the time) accidentally struck the small moon and knocked it out of the sky. This wasn't the first time, nor was it safe to bet that it would be the last. Never-the-less, it took the usual four big space tugs (and some fancy language) to get Ding back into orbit. The Tourism Office heaved a huge sigh of relief, as the little moon had become quite famous over the years, and now formed part of the main attraction of the colony. It would be a crippling blow to the tourism economy if Ding stayed in its newest crater. It just wouldn't do at all.

The plains were dry and dusty, and there were few forests to take advantage of the excellent groundwater. A few native forests grew wild near the tropics, vast and almost totally unknown, except to a handful of strange men in lab coats and steel-capped safety boots (this is Deanna after all) who insisted on looking for natural cures for strange and exotic diseases – and often discovering a few new ones in the process.

Crabby-grass grew wild on the plains, terrorizing the population of imported livestock. Crabby-grass looked like ordinary grass and smelled like ordinary grass – except that it was aware that it was being looked at and smelled. It would mostly stay still, feeding on spores and little bugs and mites in the soil. In the cities, crabby-grass subsisted on a steady diet of pigeons, the winged vermin of the galaxy. The creatures preferred to move only at night, looking for – er, greener pastures. It generally objected to being stepped on, nibbled at or even being addressed in a harsh tone of voice. Many a rancher has been surprised to find his missing red-horned wildebeest trying to hide under a cherebub bush half its size – or on top of his Jeepo, whimpering. Getting bitten back by its dinner was a novel idea to most herbivores, and a cow in a state of shock can do amazing things – especially to milk.

The capital city on Deanna was a medium sized city by current standards, consisting mainly of smaller colony towns that had sprawled into each other as the number of colonists increased over the years. Atro City had a character all its own. Lugaluru was one such town, right at the outskirts of Atro City, and still just as 'country' as ever. Anybody who was anybody drove shiny new hydrogen powered SUV's and wore fancy suits and cowboy hats. Which is why Gary Beck wore jeans, sneakers and a blue khaki shirt. (The hat unfortunately, was a necessity.) It was a typically bright sunny morning outside his two bedroom camper, which is why he was still indoors.

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