The "best" of all possible outcomes is being ripped to ribbons, out of phase with time itself. I hate my fucking job.

Nothing has gone right since I went Transoxania. I'm probably the only one this far over the river. I could explain, but the common tongue of history is denied me. I'm the only one that remembers the Baikonur Cosmodrome burning, when they hung Lincoln in Atlanta, when China pressed the button. I'm the only Chrononaut that they ever lost. Radar ghost. Paradox.

The future, relative to my experience, is a shithole. The Industrial Revolution was the fitful start of a chainsaw that we used to chew the Earth a new one. Problem is, it's all relative. Mutant children with steel arms still go to school, still chew gum, still tell lies. I think I used to have nightmares like this, but my mind didn't imagine the possibilties. Strip mall historical societies. Twinkies as traditional cuisine. Mindwipe insurance. Society has always been a monster, but I only lived with the catepillar.

This is the goddamn butterfly.

They caught me as soon as I popped up in the parking lot of a cheap brothel-mart on the far northern coast of New Alaska. North quarter of BernersLee City, in good ole United Nations of America. ExxoTex drones sprayed nanofoam up my ass before I even hit the ground. I was booked by an AI that processed me for illegally teleporting across stated spacial borders and tossed me in a holding pen to wait for my Virtual lawyer. No chips in my skull to mark me as a loyal NorAm-er, so they tagged me as a dirty orbital refugee.

My suit blocked out most of the gas they pumped in to keep me docile.

The robot in the next cell was crying. The sound looped at 36 second intervals, and alternated between 70 and 90 decibels. The readouts on my retinas flooded with advertisements about a millisecond after I tried to access any kind of public signal. I was flying blind. At least the constant of humanity remained:

Man will kill that which he doesn't understand.

I held my head in my hands and thought about the past. The past was so much easier. Superstition was my greatest tool for survival. That time in Norway, when I blew though the roof of some poor Viking bastard's blacksmithing shed, they just assumed I was a Thunder God. Here I'm a refu that isn't even worth human interaction. They sprayed an apple green symbol on my suit. "No threat" in binary.

Oh yeah?

After I press the button, I'm everywhere. You have to be careful not to occupy the same physical place as yourself in the timeline, but that isn't too hard when you can fix your own mistakes before they happen. One of me holds the crying robot while another, older, wizened version slams a metal baton into its voicebox. All nine of us laugh when the crying stops. The roof of the cell disappears with a sizzling hiss of disintergating plasteel, and I toss myself a hoverbelt from the roof. Just as the klaxon starts to sound, I toss a Tesseract cube to the onrushing guard. It shows a loop of one of those old Detroit car factory robot arm welders sparking hot metal onto some naked chassis. As close as these rivetheads get to porn is creation imagery.

When the electromag grenade inside erupts, it blows the guard's arm clean off. Blast channeling shields carve the expanding cloud of metal and flaming synethics into intricate patterns on the remaining walls and ceilings. The heiroglypic epitaphs it makes describe many unnatural acts the translator can participate in with his mother.

Well, that's what they told me would happen when I bought it. I'm hip deep in a 15th century Vietnamese swamp picking apple green paint off my spacesuit, so I'll have to take their word for it.

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