Departament Opartości
Departament Opartości
By: VogsVogs
PUBLISHED: 24 Apr 2020 08:57
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NOTE: As per standard procedure for field reports, the following Temporal log's events are presented in chronological order. This should not conflict with thaumonarrative presentation mandated by SIXTH SUN PROTOCOL.



Chłodna bryza wiała przez czysty, prostokątny park; starannie przystrzyżone drzewa iglaste i żywopłoty delikatnie szeleściły przez byłego, tworząc biały szum, który tłumi gwar miasta. Wytartym ścieżkom spacerowym towarzyszą okazjonalne ławki, częsciowo oświetlone przez wieżowce otaczające park. To była jedna z kilku nocy w roku podczas których Empire State Building nie był the w centrum horyzontu zamiast tego ustępował ogromnej świecącej kuli, która zaczęła opadać do miasta.

Na jednej ławce, Słychać słaby rytm trzasków i warkotów, po którym następuje matowa niebieska poświata. Poświata stopniowo rozjaśnia się w sylwetkę, gdy rytm staje się głośniejszy, zwiększając ton, aż pojawi się kobieta. Nosiła czarny mundur taktyczny, a także plecak i migający szaro-niebieski zegarek, iskrzy i zatrzymuje się gdy na trawe wypada z niego główna przekładnia. Złapała oddech, opierając się plecami o ławkę, rozglądając się wokół z zaskoczeniem.W końcu słyszy śpiew tysięcy głosów odliczających unisono. Lśniąca, gwieździsta kula opada na dół swojej wieży, wraz z największym zbiorowym "Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku!" w dotychczas zapisanej historii.

Ilse's eyes widen as she realizes where and, more importantly, when she is, pounding the bench with her fist. "Christ's sake! Damned factory default…" She glances at her shattered timepiece, internal clockwork exposed and inactive. With a huff, she produces a small notepad and pen, adding an item to her checklist. "Screw it, I'll deal with this later."

"Hey," shouts a figure to her right, seated on another bench a few meters away. With a squint, the Temporal Agent recognizes the figure as herself, though not so worse for wear. She unlatches a different watch from her wrist, a shiny black-and-red frame of angular design. "Looking for something?"

Ilse shoves the broken model into a backpack pocket, reaching out to take the one offered to her. "Thanks. Where'd you get it?"


Director Reynders' senior self, captured via body camera.

Future-Ilse blinks. "I got it from me when I was you."

"Right, duh," Ilse mutters, gesturing toward herself. "Sorry, just frazzled."

"It's a beautiful design, though." Future-Ilse gestures to Ilse's wrist as she dons the time-travel mechanism. "Temporal's next model is heavily inspired by it."

"Guess that means I've got some reverse engineering to do." Ilse stands and runs a hand through her hair, examining the watch before pressing a few buttons, activating a red holographic display. She scrolls through dates, times, and other settings, ensuring her future self has calibrated it properly. "When're you headed next?"

Future-Ilse smiles warmly. "Home, for a few days. Or at least, that's what I told me when I was you."

Ilse looks up in disbelief. "What? That's against the rules."

"We wrote the rules. Plus, it's work-related."

"That's all you can tell me, I assume?"

Her senior self nods, sighing as she begins to produce another normal, blue time-watch. "Have some patience," she jokes, eliciting a chuckle from Ilse. Neither of her selves needed a reminder that she'd developed patience in spades, having once spent eighty consecutive years in a single room.

"I'm all out," she retorts plainly, tapping her new watch's face. The mechanism begins to click and whirr to life, underscored by the rising hum of its engine. The watch's wide wristband features a touchpad on its underside, which she begins to tap her fingertips against. She mimics the pattern of clicks from the clockwork, eliciting a more pronounced hum in return. The air around Ilse gradually gains a reddish hue, glowing dimly in the night. "I'll see me when I'm you."

"Hey, y'know, I do get to send you in the right direction," Ilse's future self says with a firm expression. "You made a deal to get back. What was your end?"

Ilse blinks at her senior in confusion, becoming more obscured as the jump barrier began to close shut. "My end? I, uh… the Student wanted… it wanted information — "

"It wanted memories, and it took more than it let on." Future-Ilse's tone quickens as she leans upward, trying to maintain eye contact. "I'm going to find Lys. I need to meet her."

The wall of red anachronous energy seals shut around Ilse and she is alone, with only moments to prepare for her next jump. In those moments, a single question crosses her mind:

Who's Lys?




Ilse manifests in a bright blue flash, falling to the ground with a cough. She swats at her gray-blue wristwatch, attempting to shut the malfunctioning unit down — to no avail. In Site-43's adjacent parking lot, a car swerves around her to enter. She rolls onto one side as the timepiece's engine revs up again, pressing the button frantically. "No, no, no, no, no —" was all she managed to say before disappearing back into temporal mayhem.

A young, skinny Dr. William Wettle steps out of the Site's Inter-Sectional Subway station, making a brief trek to retrieve something he'd left in his vehicle. Forty-two meters above his head, a pot of petunias manifests in the same blue light. The heavy ceramic gains significant momentum as it tumbles toward the ground; it misses entirely, instead opting to shatter the windshield of one beat-up tan sedan, belonging to the bumbling buffoon of comparable hair color. With a defeated sigh, he produces a cigarette, which the wind then prevents him from smoking. "Fuck."

The broken remains of the flowerpot demanifest soon after.


An older, more rounded Dr. Wettle leans against the wall outside the aforementioned facility, absent-mindedly conversing with a new friend colleague whose passion for theoretical Pataphysics would be frustrating if not so damn impressive (not that he'd admit as much). They watch the sunrise together, Place nudging Wettle now and then to ensure he was only pretending not to listen. "I mean, I guess you could think of it like a luck-based anomaly, but the luck part is really a side effect of our perceptions of the narrative potential of someone having really bad luck."

"I dunno," Wettle retorts with a puff of his cigarette. "It doesn't feel all that narratively engaging when God drops a flowerpot on your windshield."

His assertion is punctuated by the sound of glass shattering. The duo are jolted by the sudden noise, glancing toward the tan car from which it originates. Among the glass shards on the dashboard are ceramic fragments, dirt and roots, and a small slip of paper. Wettle approaches in disbelief, running a hand through his hair before procuring the slip. It read, IOU 2 WINDSHIELDS, SORRY.

Place smirks, fighting to hold in his laughter. "You were saying?"



Ilse's blue silhouette flashes as she comes into being, gripping the edge of her desk firmly as she settles into her office chair. She slows her breathing, concentrating on her next words as she watches a blurred figure approach the door, swiveling the knob with a click. As she steps in, Alternate-Ilse stops in her tracks, a forkful of chocolate cake frozen in mid-air.

Ilse crosses her arms, leaning back. "Hey. Could you shut the door, please?"

Her alternate self glances between her, the cake, and the door, sighing softly and setting her paper plate aside, kicking the door shut behind her. "Listen, I'm sure this is important," she starts.

Ilse nods.

"Right, but I finally have my life back, and it's only been a few days. I'm sure you know that."

"Well, yes," she retorts. "That's how I knew where and when to find you."

Alternate-Ilse pauses, opening her mouth to counter before shutting it again. With a huff, she steps toward her desk and sits opposite her darker-clothed self. "Alright, you're my future self, so logically, I should defer to you, despite how little information you give me."

"Glad that's sorted!" Ilse smiles to herselves.

Her alternate self rolls her eyes. "So, what d'you need from me?"

"This," she says, reaching into her backpack pocket to retrieve her fried watch. She sets it on the table with a thud, pushing it towards her alternate self. "Your next project."

"A broken watch?"

Ilse stands up from the desk, raising her arm to flash her wrist at Alternate-Ilse. "A broken time machine, formatted as a watch. All I need you to do is study it, fix it, and, when you're done, sometime in the next sixty years, put it behind the bookshelf," she gestures toward the corner.

Alternate-Ilse blinks. "I assume you're not going to explain why, or answer any questions I might have."

Ilse smirks, gesturing zipping her lips up and throwing away the key. "You'll find out the long way around. Have some patience."

"Oh, fuck off," her alternate self laughs, picking the shattered mesh of clockwork up off the desk. "I'm never being patient again."

"Oh, hey, and a bonus," Ilse adds as she scrolls through the jumpwatch's settings as it starts to hum softly, tracing her finger around the rim. "Once you've got the design, you can tell Temporal it was your idea."

"Is that how I end up getting hired?"

Ilse winks at herself, and disappears in the dull blue glow.



Centered within Temporal Site-01's Secure Database is an office of modest size, scored by the gentle hum and whirr of the surrounding machinery. On its door is mounted a silver placard, engraved with the text DIRECTOR, TEMPORAL ANOMALIES DEPT. A moment later, the door swings open and the space where the placard was is occupied instead by the pale, seemingly-youthful face of one Dr. Ilse Reynders, unaging Temporal Agent and PhD. hexadecuplicate. Said face is typically framed by her long, blonde-brown hair, which is presently tied into a bun.

"Marcus!" Ilse smiles, greeting a pudgy, dark-haired man who looks to be in his thirties or forties. "Seems your first jump left you intact."

"Heh," Marcus laughs politely. "I threw up afterward, mostly just 'cause I was nervous. The jump itself wasn't all that bad, though."

"You get used to the nervousness," she shrugs, gesturing for him to walk with her as they weave between server banks, leaving the Database.

"Since I arrived here, though, I've felt a bit, uh… shoot, how do I describe this…"

Ilse raises a brow. "Wobbly?" Marcus nods, with wide eyes, surprised she'd seemingly read his mind. "That's the Site. Or, more specifically, it's being outside of time."

"So everyone gets that?"

"Pretty much. It's like reverse sea-sickness; you spend your whole life on a boat, going at a (mostly) constant rate through the flow of time." Ilse sighs as she produces her notepad and pen, scribbling down a loose thought as she recites her explanation. "You get used to leaning into that flow. Then, we pluck you off the boat, put you on dry land, and you fall over because you're leaning forward all the time."

"Huh, guess I didn't think of it that way." Marcus nods along as the two slow to a halt.

"I spent eighty years in a stopped timestream; it hardly affects me anymore." Ilse steps to one side of the hallway, gesturing to an unmarked gray door. "Your quarters. Here, let me help you with that," she offers, pocketing her pen and pad as his hands were full with luggage. She takes a medium-sized flowerpot from him, opening the door with her free hand and gesturing for him to enter. He thanks her and rolls his suitcase into the quaint room.

"Must be some pretty important flowers if you paid to send 'em here," Ilse remarks, sizing up the pink-red petunias that sprung out of the flowerpot.

"Yeah, they were a gift from my mother. She passed away a few years ago."

"Oh, sorry to hear that." Ilse glances at her pale blue watch, brows furrowing as its gears start to click and shift, whirring to life of its own volition.

"Thanks. Yeah, since I'm literally going to be here for an unquantifiable length of time, figured I'd bring them to…" he trails off, turning around to find no trace of Ilse, "…keep me sane?"

Marcus did not see his petunias again.



She steps into the hallway with a huff, leaving ajar the office door of one Doctor Place H. McD., Director of Pataphysics. Inside, a futuristic, many-spoked wheel can be seen rotating gracefully as the erratic scientist talks to himself — his past self, actually. Ilse had just completed the second step of a two-step process, ensuring that

  • 2034-Place contacts 2021-Place via SCP-5956 and
  • 2034-Place reverse-engineers the anomaly, so that
  • 2021-Place can build it, and go on to eventually fulfill the time loop.

With that mind-numbingly self-referential item crossed off her notepad, Ilse sighs with relief, entering the empty cafeteria and taking a seat. Flicking a few buttons on her watch, she logs her mission as successful, adjusting a few of the report's details where needed. All she has left to do is return to Temporal for a check-in and some rest… with one exception. She's been putting it off for an unquantifiable while, not wanting to give up her sleek new tool until it's been properly documented and prototyped. Now that it has, she's no excuse to delay further.

With a few more adjustments to her jumpwatch, she reverts it to default settings, changing her next destination as a result. The primary gear starts ticking, then the secondary, creating a polyrhythm between the different tempi. Ilse takes a deep breath and relaxes, listening intently to the composite rhythm…

Tick, tick-tock, tick tock tick, tock-tick…
Tick, tick-tock, tick tock tick, tock-tick…

The third time it repeats, she presses her fingertips to the watch's wristband, beginning to tap in sync with the device. This process, nicknamed 'thumping' among Temporal Agents, is necessary to activate the jump; by moving in sync with her watch, Ilse merges her local timestream with its, thereby attaching herself to it as it moves to a different point in time. As she continues to execute the kinetoglyph, the watch's hum increases in pitch, emitting various red particles that wrap themselves into a cocoon around her body, sealing her off from the standard timestream.

She was due to pay herself a visit.



The sun's rays pour over Ontarian marshland, reflecting bright orange off of ponds and puddles amid vibrant yellow-greens and swampy dark browns. Amid tall grasses and stout shrubs, several slow winged creatures trod through the landscape, communicating in a complex language of chirps and whistles. They move with a timeless quality, quieting as they approach the lakeshore and lean down to drink. As they arrive, a sleek panther-like creature emerges from the waters a few meters away. It sits calmly on the shore, watching them as they bathe their wings. It does not pursue the other creatures. It just supervises.

A few minutes later, the creatures waddle back into the grass and fade back into the brush. The panther-creature watches them until they're no longer visible, then slowly turns its head towards Ilse. She lies on her side in the grass, blinking as it stares with its piercing amber-yellow gaze. After a moment of realization, she shuts her eyes, playing dead, silently praying that the creature hadn't noticed her movement.

Ilse stays like that for a long time, hearing only the rustling grass and rushing water; when her eyes open again, the panther is gone. With a groan, she pulls herself out of the mud and to her feet, stumbling a few steps before regaining her balance on an adolescent tree's trunk. She reaches into her backpack with a huff, producing a water bottle and a couple Tylenol capsules. Next, she looks to her watch, gasping as she notices the damage it's suffered: cracks in the glass, primary gear out of alignment, stabilizers missing. She taps it anxiously, somewhat relieved to find its holographic interface still functional, and scrolls through to try and get her bearings.

"What?" She rubs her eyes before checking the display again. It claims she's arrived at Ipperwash Park circa 2099, in and during which she knows (from experience) that Site-43 should be nearby. She takes a few steps from the tree, swiveling around to see nothing but Nature in every direction. Her breathing quickens as she backs into a large boulder, placing a dirtied hand against her forehead and letting out a stressed shriek. "Oh lord, okay, alright, think, think…" she mutters to herself, attempting to focus and steady herself on the horizon, watching for a few minutes as Lake Huron's gray-blue surface waves up and down against the sky.

With a calm, collected breath, Ilse steps forward. It's clear her watch is malfunctioning; it appears that its coordinate system is misaligned, too, if it thinks she's near the Site. She decides to get a better look at the damage, resting her palm against a large stone surface and reaching forth to unlatch her watch. The house-sized boulder is much warmer than expected, eliciting a yelp from Ilse; her hand jolts backward in surprise, though her sweat seems to stick to the stone for a moment before she finally pulls away.

Her handprint fades from the slick surface, followed by the sounds of machinery within. A flush stone slab slides into the ground, creating a doorway-like opening in the boulder's exterior. Inside, a cylindrical chamber swivels open, producing a dim glow that solely illuminates the rock's hollow interior. She blinks in confusion, glancing around; caught by another amber-yellow glow, Ilse trains her gaze on the shore to find the Mishipeshu seated once again, staring. This time, Ilse took the hint, giving the creature a slight bow before backing into the boulder.

The slab shoots up from the ground, locking back into place with a pneumatic PSSSHT. Ilse drums her fingers gently against the cylinder's outer railing, examining it before stepping inside. As she does so, it swivels shut behind her and starts to move downward, gradually accelerating. Ilse leans calmly against the elevator's inner wall, prodding at the exposed gears and pieces that rest around her wrist. "Sheesh," she mutters; the watch was toast, no two ways about it.

The Temporal Agent feels the elevator slow to a stop, taking in a deep breath. Her right hand reaches down, hovering over her pistol in preparation for whatever was on the opposite side of the door. She tenses as the elevator door slides open, scanning her surroundings to discover a modest lobby, possessing leather armchairs and magazines in spades. As she steps out her jaw drops, recognizing the room. "Oh. Oh, no."

"Welcome, Chief Reynders," chimes a polite automated voice over the P. A. system. "Your last recorded visit at Vanguard Research and Preservation Site-43 was NINE, NINE, NINE, NINE, N — days ago. Would you like a tour?"

Ilse's watch isn't wrong about her time or location, and yet it had somehow malfunctioned far more severely than she'd realized; she's arrived in a different timeline.

Unsupervised database access and an hour of detective work tell Ilse a few things she hadn't already known about this side of the Critical Pivot: sometime following the Foundation -> Vanguard transition, an initiative had been activated to convert most Sites to autonomous operations, as more than 98% of contained anomalies had been released into more normal environments, like sheltered wildlife preserves and public research programs. The only Site-43 anomaly Vanguard hadn't de-contained was SCP-5520 — former Site Co-Director, reality bender, and friend to Ilse.

She picks up the pace as she walks down the hallway, breath ragged. Come on, Wettle, come on… she pleads silently, arriving at his office's open door. After pushing her way into the room, she walks to his desk and pulls out the central drawer, sighing in relief as she locates a half-empty carton of cigarettes. Not that she'd ever been much of a smoker, but under the circumstances…


Dr. Wynn Rydderech, c. 1943.

ITEM №: VNP-5520

SPECIFICATIONS: Former SCP Foundation Senior Researcher and Provisional Site Co-Director Dr. Wynn Rydderech, possessing both Class-III reality-bending abilities and various debilitating cognitive impairments due to long-term exposure to esoteric waste materials. Self-exiled since 1966 to an enormous cavernous network beneath Site-43 to research and abate esoteric materials in isolation.

NORMALIZATION PROTOCOLS: Dr. Rydderech's prior and current documentation are declassified to all personnel for acroamatic and parapsychological study, including himself. Project RHETORIC, the process whereby both VNP-5520 and relevant personnel are deceived in exchange for the former's scientific contributions, is permanently discontinued. Ongoing communications with Dr. Rydderech will be facilitated by Site-43's Psychology and Parapsychology Section as large-scale acroamatic abatement processes are relocated from Nexus-94.

If anyone should know the truth, it's him.
— Dr. Nhung T. Ngo, Chair of P&P

ADDENDUM: Dr. Rydderech was initially amiable to communications via printed slips of text, as per those previous, demonstrating a vested interest in his role in the formation of Vanguard (alongside mild incoherence). However, after decommissioning of Site-43's acroamatic abatement systems, Dr. Rydderech became unresponsive; Dr. Ngo conjectures that a lack of perceived usefulness on his part led to a severe depressive episode. This is the proposed cause for the Site's gradual descent into the ground which occurred during the following weeks, sinking at a rate of ~0.1 meters per day and damaging structures and equipment Site-wide.

On 2021/07/01, after six weeks of the Site's descent, Vanguard Administration activated SUNDOWN Protocol per the advice of the Psychology and Parapsychology Section. This entailed the release of an anomalous expansive compound into AAF-W, filling the chamber and resulting in the anaesthetization and subsequent decommissioning of VNP-5520.

It was never your fault. I save me.

I'll be with Vivian soon.

— Dr. Ryderrech's last communication, sent one minute prior to his end.

Ilse sits for who-knows-how-long, waiting for the tears to stop as she re-reads the file for the umpteenth time. It's not long before she lights another cigarette, taking a slow puff and letting it absent-mindedly drift into the air. With that, the room's sprinkler system is triggered, eliciting a gasp from her as she's drenched in cold water. With a sniff, she curls up against the wall, letting the torrent wash over her.

Maybe it's Wynn's way of crying, too.

After a few hours' rest, Ilse continues to comb through the database, looking for anything that might help her return to her own timeline. Any technologies allowing inter-timeline travel had been released for public study, though with heavy regulation on their applications — but the science on that is still only in its infancy, allowing the passing of information to a few very specific (and hardly useful) timelines. It's likely the tech would be sufficiently advanced further into the future, but a) she's no way to get there, and b) there was no guarantee the timeline wouldn't have collapsed beforehand, placing Ilse smack-dab in the center of the Void, eternally.

She isn't planning on building a new device, either. Designing Temporal's jumpwatches had been an ordeal, to say the least; it'd taken continuous help from multiple different versions of herself at different points in time, solving various design problems simultaneously. She isn't exactly excited to do that again, and the watch still doesn't give her a clear way to get back to her home timeline.

With a huff, she clicks to the next file.


ITEM №: VNP-O5-2

SPECIFICATIONS: A modular beryllium-bronze computing system of metropolitan size, housing the artificial general intelligence formerly known as O5-2. Refers to itself as 'The Student', and values new data (from which to learn) to a high degree; known to trade technological advancements and other gifts for said data.

ORIGIN: An advanced algorithm seeded from 8-BA1.aic ("8-Ball"), O5-2 was the now-defunct O5 Council's Archivist, responsible for facilitating and documenting Council matters, as well as maintaining Site-01's Secure Database. Following the decision to dissolve the Foundation, O5-2 escaped its scheduled decommissioning through unknown vectors, remaining undetected by webcrawler programs for two weeks before its infosignature was detected in Western California, within Site-15's intranet. Soon after, all contact was lost with the Site; it is assumed its remains would go on to become VNP-O5-2.

NORMALIZATION PROTOCOLS: Arrangements have been made with VNP-O5-2 such that it will patrol and report to Vanguard on local activity in exchange for access to the same information regarding other Nexuses. A five-kilometer radius has been established around VNP-O5-2 as Provisional Wildlife Preserve-15, with the purpose of housing human-safe items native to the Mediterranean climate.

Ilse recognizes this as her golden ticket, mind starting to race. The AI sounds much, much more advanced than humans — chances are, it knows how to send her home, or, at least, the steps required to do so. Now, her main questions are how do I get there, and what do I give it? For the former, she'd typically use her watch, while the latter left her clueless. If only she could contact Temporal personnel and ask, they could — wait a second!

Director Reynders, with all sixteen of her full degrees, had somehow entirely forgotten that there was another Ilse in this timeline. She jumps up from the main communications desk, jogging to her old office in Acroamatic Abatement. Ilse had joined the Temporal Anomalies Department decades after the Critical Pivot, meaning that her alternate-self may or may not eventually have access to such a watch, unless she ensures it.

As she arrives in her office, she coughs slightly at the abundance of dust. Ilse fumbles through the drawers to find them empty, pausing for a few moments to glance around the room. With a smirk, she reaches behind the bookshelf, producing another blue-gray watch in mint condition. "Yes! Thank you thank you thank you past-me…" Ilse latches the new watch to her wrist, fitting just barely less snugly than before. She begins scrolling through dates and settings, getting ready to ensure the presence of the watch she was now using.

And it just so happened she knew when and where she'd meet her other self.


A yelp is heard as our Temporal Agent is ejected from the Preserve's perimeter, followed by the thud of her landing. Her head whips to either side as she tries to regain her footing, looking for some indication of what exactly had just happened. With a short breath, Ilse turns around to face a translucent orange dome, which eventually dissipates.

At one side of the path leading into WP-15, a podium displays various infographics on a cycle. After brushing herself off, Ilse approaches it, reading one such infographic:

Can you find the living metal metropolis within WP-15? Trek fairly to the Preserve's center to meet the Student, a being of great wisdom and fairness. NOTE: SPONTANEOUS MANIFESTATIONS WITHIN WP-15 ARE DANGEROUS AND SHOULD NOT BE ATTEMPTED.

She grunts in frustration, running her fingers through her hair. Nothing can be easy, can it?

The journey through the preserve's deep forest is uncomfortable but largely uneventful. She navigates the brush and vines with a long knife, occasionally stopping to rid herself of loose twigs and prickly things. Along the walk, Ilse starts to pick up on some of the Preserve's less noticeable species; a short gust of wind blows past her, and is gone as soon as it came, then followed by another. She stops in her tracks, staying still and trying to pay attention to the breeze surrounding her. Eventually, she sees a trail of stray leaves unfurl and spiral around another before falling to the ground.

After the sentient winds, she proceeds into a more humid area, taking frequent breaks to drink and rest. Ilse takes one such break at the edge of a small clearing, in which a much taller deciduous tree stood, darker than its surroundings. The Temporal Agent cocks her head slightly as she approaches the tree, whose bark seems to ooze rushing water. A dead log lays at the weeping tree's feet, partially eroded by the water. When she reaches out to touch the live trunk, two sap-colored eyes blink awake, boring into her and sending a shudder down her spine.

The horizon begins to brighten as she continues forward, a dull lime green present behind the thinning tree trunks. Soon, the green comes into focus as very, very tall grass, nearly twice as tall as Ilse; she takes a deep breath before beginning to wade through the soft grass fibers, pulling them apart as she slowly approaches the inside of the green sub-perimeter.

Finally, she parts the last of the grass, eliciting a jaw-drop from the exhausted Agent. In front of her lies a massive, sprawling city-like complex of cubes and lasers, flashes of light and glass chambers, the grinding of metal and hum of electricity. Spires stretch up from the silver-platinum bedding, towering into the air and emitting various signals of different types. In the far distance, an enormous waterfall acts as a backdrop for the metropolis, its walls lined with water turbines.

Ilse takes a few steps forward, planting her feet firmly in front of an enormous silver-gray wall. She clears her throat and, with a deep breath, recites the greeting she'd been practicing for over two hours now.

"I'm here to see the Student," she bellows, arms outstretched. "I have information!"

Suddenly, the entire city's motion stops — computing modules hang in mid-air, blips and whirrs are silent. After a moment's hesitation, a grid of smaller cubes flips in various directions, altering their individual colors until they finally form an enormous orange oculus with a digital aperture, mimicking a blinking effect every so often.


The Student's voice shrieks in her mind, simultaneously an elegant and uncomfortable sound.


Ilse shudders at the feeling of its voice, taking a deep, relaxed breath. "That's right. The info you want is in my head."


"Then look harder. Don't just look at the facts — look at what I felt.


Ilse crosses her arms. "The human brain is an extremely complex product of evolution, and one of the primary systems governing its activity is emotion. Think about how your understanding of the development of life and complex neurological systems would be improved if you understood emotions just a bit better."

"Look at how much I've suffered. I spent eighty years locked in an office. I can afford to part with a few of them."

The Student pauses to make a calculation.


"Now that's more like it."


"Right, yes. As you probably know from your previous analysis, I'm a very long ways from home. I need help getting back."


"Wait, really?" Ilse blinks up at the enormous iris.


Ilse huffs, glancing down for a moment to think as a few of the Student's stray cubes float up over it. "… then I want to add to the deal."


"I want info, too. " She asserts, tucking a strand of hair aside. "I need to know the fates of our timelines, which one is stable and which isn't."

The Student does not speak for a few minutes, making a particularly large calculation. Finally, the iris blinks actively.


"So nine years, total, for the knowledge and for safe transportation to my home timeline."


Ilse stares down at her shoes for a moment, then her watch. "I'm ready when you are."

Without further ado, the giant platinum wall opens to eject two blue tendrils, one attached to Ilse's watch while the other latches onto her skull —

Everything goes dark.



In a flashy red glow, Ilse finds herself back in the hallways of Temporal Site-01, lying on the ground outside Markus' quarters. She attempts to get up, but groans in exhaustion instead. Several alerted personnel converge on Director Reynders, assisting her with medical needs as one of her Agents asks, "What happened? Wh-where did you go? We couldn't trace you!"

She pants softly before someone helps her with drinking, swallowing down some water and attempting to produce another Tylenol from her backpack. "I-I… I saw the other timeline. I saw how they end."

The Agent raises a brow in confusion. "What did you see?"

Ilse glances up to meet her Agent's gaze, smiling exhaustedly. "They don't end."

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