THE DAY BEFORE
Friday May 17th, 2069
Alabama District 3
Commonwealth Of North America
With an asthmatic wheeze the engine died. It figured. Stuck in a man’s craw, it did. This truck had been his daddy’s and his pappy’s, and before the Commonwealth government forced him to replace the diesel engine with the newfangled water doohickey, he was certain he’d pass the truck onto his son.
He’d been playing under the hood of trucks since he was six and now he was stranded. Embarrassing, that’s what it was. He climbed out of the cab to check the engine out of habit. The ice blue block of modern fuel efficiency stared back. Three hundred bucks it’d cost him, straight from his pocket.
Oh, there was a government subsidy, all right. A priority list. Major Population Centers, they said. Unite the countries of the Commonwealth on a timeline, they said. And what did all that mean?
It meant the damn Yankees got upgraded cities and free cars before the ink was dry on the Constitution and what about the little man? Nobody thought about the working class. No one cared about a man covered in oil and grease anymore.
If all life is sacred, then Mr. Gant is a blasphemer of the highest order. He is everything humanity strives not to be.
~ Detective Samantha Rose at the trial of Nialls Gant I3–2071
Monday September 26, 2072
Brevard County, Florida
Federated States of Mexico
Gracie, a bearded Latino man with a shiny bald head, punched Nialls Gant’s arm. “Wanna a tat, brah? I got more ink.”
Nialls kept his focus on the guards in the prison tower as they rotated.
“You hear me, brah?” The fetid odor of onions and poor hygiene entrapped him.
Blinking once, Nialls turned to the other inmate. “No.”
“Come on, Gant. We could do a couple of teardrops on you. Maybe a gun on your back,” Gracie went on, oblivious to Nialls’s focus.
“Prison tattoos make it easier for people to identify you when you’re out of prison,” Nialls said. “It’s hard to run a con when you have your criminal record embedded in your dermis.”
“Decoherence (n): a period of time when all iterations collapse and there is only one possible reality.”
~ excerpt from Definitions of Time by Emmanuela Pine, I1
… three. Rose stood and peered through the frosted, warped glass of the conference room as the speaker turned away. It didn’t matter which iteration she was in, Emir was predictable. She had seven seconds to do a head count. She didn’t need that long.
A quick head count was all it took to confirm that the einselected nodes she’d been sent to assassinate were where they belonged.
Every iteration had nodes, people or events that kept that variation of human history from collapsing. Dr. Emir had created a machine that allowed people not only to move along their own timeline, but at critical convergence points, it allowed them to cross between realities. But the Mechanism for Iteration Alignment’s greatest ability was the one that allowed Dr. Emir and Central Command to steer history by erasing futures they didn’t want.
Rose knelt beside the door, did one final sweep for alarms, and nodded for her team to move in. It was her job to cross at convergence points, kill the nodes, and collapse the futures that no one wanted.