A Friend in Need…
“Is a Friend Indeed”
by Chess Desalls
Calla brushed sand from her shirt and hair. She grimaced in apology as the dirt hit the floor. “Better than tell them, I can show them, Si-Ting.”
“Very well.” Si-Ting led the group through the door of the backroom to a metal shed.
A young man crouched next to a futuristic motorcycle with suspensors, a type of hovering device. He and the vehicle were similarly covered in sand and dust.
Caballito gaped. “A speeder?”
The young man stood up and frowned.
“It’s okay, Valcas,” Calla said. “Si-Ting and her friends can help us.” When he failed to reply, she continued, “We began our search while riding an Estrel Flyer. The vehicle changed to blend in with this time and place.”
Eying the speeder’s yellow and black paintjob, Bear grinned. “The Scrapmen will see that from miles away, mate.” His awareness of the cutter in his rucksack lessened as he took in the situation. “Were you two caught in a sandstorm?”
Valcas exhaled. “The sandstorm was caused by the impact of our arrival.”
LX trailed a finger along the speeder’s headlight. “The technology is inferior to my ship, but your vehicle remains intact.” After further inspection he added, “I cannot ascertain what apprehensions you and your female acquaintance have with a functioning vehicular device. It is not complicated enough to support the necessary processing equipment for traveling through time.”
“Don’t be offended by his criticism,” said Jane. “Lex’s ship has all the toys, but we’ve lost the connections and communications needed to get back on course. He’s bummed out that his time machine is as useless as a tin rocket.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, but the speeder is not how we arrived in this place and time. Our vehicle is not what’s broken.” Valcas held out a pair of sunglasses with a crack in one lens; the frame was bent where the opposite lens was shattered. “I doubt this will mean much to you, but we’d been searching for a solution to the conflict between the TSTA—Time and Space Travel Agency—and Aboreal, my mother’s home world. The glasses broke upon arrival—both pairs. They’ve never done that before.”
Calla frowned as she pulled a similarly shattered pair from her pocket. “At first we wondered whether what we were looking for couldn’t possibly exist—that the glasses somehow exploded and we’d traveled to a Nowhere. But we can’t tell for sure because we haven’t come across any water, still or otherwise.”
Bear’s lips set in a tight line as he looked at Caballito, who shrugged. “You won’t find much agua here, mis amigos.”
LX shifted closer to Valcas and stared intently at the travel glasses. “I do not understand how this ocular device with atramentous lenses facilitates movement through temporal and spatial intervals.”
Jane squeezed her forehead with both hands. “Lex only means that he’s not sure how the shades help you travel. Dig?”
“Yes, I got it the first time.” Turning to LX, Valcas explained, “With the travel glasses, we’re able to conduct a search for where and when we want to go. Once we are in motion, the glasses transport us.” He frowned. “But without them, Calla and I can’t return home or communicate with anyone who could help us.”
Bear crossed his arms. “So what you’re saying is, you need more than a mechanic.” He regarded Si-Ting with a sly grin.
“My method is not so easily broken.” Si-Ting closed her eyes.
The air stilled as objects in the room appeared to shift. Images flashed, shuttered as if captured seconds apart on film. Each point in the fabric of time stretched into a texture of its own. Si-Ting reached out and searched for two threads—one for Jane and LX, and one for Calla and Valcas. With the threads of time firmly within her grasp, Si-Ting pulled.
“I haven’t seen this travel talent before,” Calla murmured.
Valcas finally smiled. “This version of your world’s future has what the TSTA calls a Thread Bender, a time-witch. I have no memory of meeting one before today.”
Calla drew in a breath. “So that means we found—”
“Exactly what we’d been searching for. Someone who can put things as they once were. But, with the glasses broken, we won’t be able to record her.”
“Or remember her on our own? But our search, our solution—”
Si-Ting twisted the threads counterclockwise, ending their conversation with a sharp sucking sound.
LX scanned the forward display screen. The data met his expectations, and the ship ran smoothly along its course. Only the communications within the cabin troubled him. He prepared to repeat a concept he worried his ancestor would never understand, no matter how many times he reworded the argument.
“We have had this discussion. I have explained the dangers of attempting to alter any historic event. While the outcome has potential for improvement, there is also the possibility that a greater calamity would replace the one that was averted by intervention.”
“You could at least show a little sympathy for…” Jane shook her head. “Never mind, man. I suppose help is more meaningful when it’s requested by someone you know. Just promise me that if I ask you for help, in the past or future, you won’t flake out with that altering time excuse. You have my permission to be helpful.”
LX nodded. “A close acquaintance who affirmatively assists with troubles made known to them exhibits true friendship, and is therefore undeniably a close acquaintance.”
“Sure, man. Something like that.”
Thank you for reading! To start this serialized portion of The Story Hop from the beginning, or to share it with a friend, follow the following story map for A Friend in Need…
Part II: Waste Not
Part III: Is a Friend Indeed
Les Lynam, Tim Hemlin, and I hope you’ve enjoyed our time-travel story mashup. To go on more adventures with LX, Jane, Caballito, Bear, Si-Ting, Calla, and Valcas, check out the following books!
Books by Les Lynam
Books by Tim Hemlin
Books by Chess Desalls
Click here to return to the 2016 B2BCyCon Story Hop!