Saturday, August 23, 2008

Prologue

“With technological advances come criminal advances: the gun allowed for easier murder, the Internet gave way to identity theft and opened the door for predators. The advent of time travel is considered humanity’s greatest advancement yet, and as such, has allowed for unfathomable levels of crime.”

The United Nations headquarters was filled with representatives from every country, gathered to find a solution to a problem that had plagued them since time began, and wouldn’t be stopped until time ended.

When scientists solved the final mysteries surrounding time and how to manipulate it, the world rejoiced. Think of all the good it could do, all the catastrophes it could prevent. And it was a good thing, for a time.

There were strict rules on time travel. Only those with government clearance were allowed to voyage along the timeline, and only for their assigned missions. These missions took years to design; conversations were mapped, GPS coordinates of precise routes were mapped, and the agents were debriefed on everything they needed to know about the particular time period. In the end, the goal was to solve a problem while blending in with everything around them, as well as affecting nothing but their objectives.

Eventually, time travel became more and more commonplace, less and less secured. It was bound to happen, but nobody saw it coming. Inevitable, if you will. A group of vagrants snuck into a government time agency and began to wreak havoc on the history of the world, starting with becoming heavy investors in computer companies right as they were being formed so they would be fabulously wealthy when they returned to their own time.

And then they really started to screw stuff up.

They began to recruit influential historical figures for their mischievous causes.

Hitler? Time terrorist.

Attila the Hun? Time terrorist.

Voldemort? Time terrorist.[1]

Powerful people, left and right, flitting back and forth between time periods doing nothing but raising an awful ruckus. Time had become a tool. Not the useful sort of tool, oh no. It’s worse than the sort of tool your mother calls your father when they’re getting a divorce. Far worse than that. Imagine, if you will, a crowbar. Attached to the crowbar is a hungry bear. This particular crowbar has the potential to do wonderful things, such as lift manhole covers and pry things, but also has the ability to maul you, destroy your tent, and take your picnic basket.

That’s pretty much what time is at this point.

“As I address the UN, you all know that the rate of time terrorism has increased exponentially, and at an alarming rate,” said Administrator McCrumb. Mr. McCrumb wasn’t really an important world leader, per se, the UN just decided that they needed someone to moderate their sessions after Mr. Georgia and Mr. Russia started throwing their little flags at each other.

“But how do you plan to combat the time terrorists?” queried Mr. Czech Republic.

“Allow me to introduce Operation DATT.[2] We plan to gather the world’s top diplomats and send them to clean up the messes that the TT’s leave behind. That is also why I have invited you here today, Commander Ross,” said McCrumb.

The eyes of the nations turned to a middle-aged man wearing a Navy uniform, sitting in a simple wooden chair. He rose to his full height of about six feet. His posture was immaculate, as though he were brought forth from the loins of the god of posture. Ross had the calves of an ox, the biceps of a silverback gorilla, and the meaty jaw of Jay Leno. Raising his cap to the room, he revealed the reason why he wore a cap. Instead of the luscious locks of his youth, his hair was graying, balding, and thinning (the trifecta of hair maladies).

“’Bout time you got to me,” said Ross in a gruff, drill sergeant voice. “I ain’t got no business here, and you got me sittin’ right next to Mr. Zimbabwe, who doesn’t even laugh at my jokes ’cause he don’t speak a lick of English.”

Mr. Zimbabwe looked at his feet, crestfallen.

“Now, Commander Ross, you are the reason that we are here today,” said McCrumb. “You see, we needed someone with great military experience, someone who is inspiring, patriotic, and a great leader, such as yourself, to lead Operation DATT. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to lead our team of hand-selected diplomats through time, helping them with any problems that arise, encouraging them and keeping them focused on their objective.”

“Sounds great,” said Ross. “Now what the hell’s that mean?”

“It means,” said McCrumb, “that you will no longer be known as Commander Ross. You are being promoted to COTAC, Chief Officer of Time Anomaly Correction.”

“Does it come with dental?” said COTAC Ross. He grinned, revealing his cigar-stained teeth.

“I hope you realize that this is a matter of global security,” said McCrumb sternly. “If you think of any jokes on the mission, you’d better just forget them. Just imagine that everyone is Mr. Zimbabwe and they wouldn’t understand you anyway.”

Mr. Zimbabwe covered his face with his hands and began to weep quietly.

“Alright, alright, just tell me when to start and I’ll be there,” said Ross.

“COTAC Ross, I don’t know if you understand. Each of these people represents an entire nation, and their fate depends on your handling of this mission,” said McCrumb. At this point, Mr. McCrumb’s knickers were in a proverbial knot.

“If these people represent countries, then Mr. Iran, you’re a jerk,” spat Ross.

Mr. Iran looked at his feet, crestfallen. Fortunately, he was seated next to Mr. Zimbabwe, who reached a friendly, knowing hand to his shoulder and comforted him. The two became great friends, and later went on to found a world-champion badminton duo.

But I digress.

McCrumb pressed on, ignoring Ross’s comment. “Ross, this is the single most important event of your life. I suggest you approach it accordingly.”

Ross finally decided that it was not the time for games. He stood up straighter (if possible) and announced, “Mr. McCrumb and the nations of the world, I accept my duties as COTAC.”

McCrumb gathered his papers into a neat stack. The other nations were beginning to stand up and leave.

“Thank you for your cooperation, COTAC Ross. You will be boarding the S4S in one week’s time, at 0800 hours,” said McCrumb.

And with that, the meeting was adjourned.



[1] Also fictional.

[2] Defense Against Time Terrorists.