Diana travels into the past to save the man she loves, but is she a match for the killers who police the timelines?
What comes first, love or duty? When Diana, a 24th century Supervisor of time travel, learns that Dero is taking unauthorized trips into the past, she has a dilemma. She knows she should arrest him, but she loves him too much. Obsessed, she follows him repeatedly into the distant past to save him from the machine-like killers that police the timelines.
One day he goes too far, threatening the delicate fabric of history itself, and Diana must make a terrible decision.
I can always tell who the killers are.
They look just like everybody else, except to me. Even when they move, they’re fixed islands in the sea of time, their false human faces following me even if they’re looking elsewhere. Somehow I always know their cold eyes are watching, that they don’t belong in the world I find myself in either.
In whatever time period I send myself to.
As for the current period, it’s Vienna, 1782. Time travel is an imperfect science, but the Chroneton has landed me exactly where it was supposed to: in an empty, musty alley off a busy cobblestone street near the heart of the city. Unobserved, I suppress a sneeze and venture out into the ferment of a vital land.
Men move about in white powdered wigs and fancy waistcoats, wearing tricorn hats and lace at their wrists and throats. A shopkeeper shouts, and a woman laughs. A fancy red carriage rolls past, pulled by matching bay horses. One of them snorts at me and flicks his tail as if he knows I don’t belong here.
A young woman barely thirty, I clutch the parasol I snatched from Wardrobe and try to look older so as not to attract attention. I feel swallowed up in petticoats, which makes it hard to navigate the street, and the fact that one of my heels is loose doesn’t help. The smell of the place is decidedly bad—raw sewage in a gutter, the smell of unwashed bodies beneath the perfume. I remember from my research that even higher-class people bathe only a few times a year. Hopefully, it won’t take me that long to get through decon when I return.
The odds of running into Dero are slim, and I’m even less likely to find Amadeus, the reason Dero tripped to this place and time. Vienna may not be a modern city, but it’s spacious and labyrinthine. Mozart frequented this particular quarter, which boasts high-end shops selling assorted sleaze and a perversion for every palate.
Odds, as they say, are made to be broken, and I spot Dero five minutes after I almost trip on a jagged cobblestone. Six foot three and muscular, Dero stands out in this runty, malnourished era, but he carries himself with such careless pride, he dissolves suspicion even as he encourages it. His handsome face flashes with smiles, and he laughs in a rich baritone that proclaims him to be a Lord of Earth, at home in every century. Maybe in the Pleistocene, he would strike you as being a tad out of place, but five seconds wrapped in his spell would douse all doubts, no matter how heavy.
Of course, I’ve time-tripped here instead of reporting him because I’m madly in love. Despite my secret shame, I cannot resist pursuing him into the past like a smitten bloodhound. I feel degraded by my passion, but without him life would be tedious.