A History Lesson
(Something to read as I continue to edit 'The World Broker'. Mad credit to my Lady for helping me out with that huge story.
Meanwhile, Traveler and Raedis are on vacation. Traveler runs into an old friend who looms large in 'The World Broker' and Raedis has a threesome with two other vacationers. Hee-hee... enjoy!)
Traveler and Raedis were on what could be best described as a paradise planet. Actually, only a small portion of the place was hospitable. A 'paradise patch' would be a more apt term for their location which was, in fact, called Paloma's Pleasure Patch. Some with a more ribald sense of humor may get a chuckle out of the name. Traveler certainly did.
The planet of the Patch was titdally locked to its star and tilted on its axis so only the north-eastern land mass recieved light from it. The rest remains forever in darkness and cold. Whoever Paloma used to be was now lost to time but she was savvy enough to realize that the hospitible area of this world that was touched by its sun was an absolutely perfect place to build an enormous resort that contained nearly any amenity a galactic vacationer may want to satisfy themselves.
Traveler was basking in a square of sunlight that had been created in the space between two cloth tarps bearing colorful geometric designs. The pair had erected them in the crystalline sand of the beach they were on. Normally Traveler would be too body conscious to appear in public in any state of undress. His thin frame revealed his robotic implants along his spine and he had the characteristic palor of a person that spent a lot of time in space.
However, everyone around them was so varied in appearance and super chill, he didn't care so much about what his body looked like. Besides...the sun was so warm and inviting he'd be a fool to not take advantage of it. He took a sip of the exotic, phosphorescent drink next to him, enjoyed its light carbonation and mind-bending effects, sighed and let the cool beverage tingle as he swallowed it.
A very attractive woman stalked past him as he sat. She had long, powerful legs that moved the rest of her as if she floated above the sand. Her dark red, shoulder length hair was wet and slicked back along her skull. It went well with her pale blue skin. Traveler lowered his aviators to watch her pass. She was just as nice to watch going as she was approaching and it wasn't until Raedis emerged from the surf that his attention was diverted from the hot alien.
Water slid from Raedis' seamless metallic body. As he made his way over to where they were set up, Raedis earned his own sets of eyes tracking his progress across the sand.
The sun bounced off of his reflective skin causing flashes of light that made Traveler push his sunglasses back into place as they bounced off his face. Raedis was dry when he plunked himself down onto the sand next to his friend.
"This place is awesome, man. How did you find it?" asked Raedis as he smoothed out his form fitting swimming trunks.
Traveler made Raedis one of the drinks he was enjoying with supplies from a nearby cooler.
"Did you make yourself more bulky and muscular?" Traveler looked up at his friend. A sly look crossed the living machine's face.
"I sure did, mate." laughed Raedis.
Traveler shook his head with a grin and offered up a glass to his friend.
" Here... Try one of these." he said, handing over one of the effervescent drinks. Raedis was about to take a sample sip when Traveler stopped him.
"Wait, wait." he said and pulled a small green, crystalline cube of some frozen liquid from the cooler. He deftly dropped it into the glass. The liquid inside fizzed very tiny bubbles and changed from a golden color to a phosphorescent blue. Raedis watched this whole process eager to discover what it resulted in. "Okay. It's ready. Enjoy." said Traveler with a smile. Raedis saw himself reflected in the man's lenses as he took an experimental sip. The drugs in the drink then reacted with his mechanical mind and made it spin wildly. A smile blossomed across Raedis' face.
"This is fantastic." he said with a chuckle.
"I know!" his friend said with a giggle of his own. The two raised their glasses and took another sip of the concoction. "The dude that showed me this place told me about them. His name was Zack..." Traveler trailed off, searching for a second name. After a moment's contemplation, he blurted it out. "Galactic! That's what the dude's name is. Zack Galactic." Traveler said, satisfied when he remembered. In all their time together this was the first Raedis had ever heard that name.
"Seriously? 'Zack Galactic?' He really went by that name?" chuckled Rædis. Traveler too had a little laugh at the man's name.
"Hee-hee...yeah. Seriously though, he was actually from Alpha Centauri. The only being I've ever met from a different galaxy. He was a cop, of all things." said Traveler.
Raedis was temporarily stunned.
"A being from another galaxy, wow..." he said. "How come this Zack Galactic has never come up before?" he asked. He turned a skeptical luminous eye towards his friend. Traveler shrugged.
"If I talked about everyone I've met in my travels, you'd get bored and I'd seem like a braggard."
Raedis rolled his eyes at this.
"You? Bragging?" he shook his head. "I can't see it." he said like a smart-ass. Traveler kicked sand at him.
"See that?" he asked with a smirk. They both laughed. "Anyways...this Zack Galactic 'an me kicked around a system or two for a bit." said Traveler.
"What did ya do together?" asked Raedis.
"We built him a ship to get back home with. It was a beauty of a craft more in functionality than form. We designed it for his long journey home after collecting a few key pieces in order to render it an actual intergalactic vehicle. I mean the vessel needed to be tough and it was. We had a few fun adventures building that ship..." Traveler said with an air of pride and nostalgia.
"What happened to the ship he arrived in?" asked Traveler's curious companion.
"He didn't come in a ship. His arrival was due to an experiment with a hyper-long range teleportation mechanism that worked one way but unfortunately for him, did not in the reverse direction."
"Ahhh...teleportation. The dream of many a physicist and travel agencies across civilized space." Rædis said with a smile. "His society must have been very advanced." Traveler scoffed, however:
"Ha! If they were that advanced they'd have rigged him for a return trip!"
"True." agreed Raedis. "So, you know this dude?"
"Yep. We shared a few ribald adventures together." Traveler told his friend with a grin as he recalled to his mind the silliness he enjoyed with the extradimensional man. It was Zack Galactic who first planted the seed of traveling to the next nearest galaxy in Traveler's mind. It was a seed he had tucked away until Rædis reminded him of it just now. He laughed lightly.
"What? What's funny?" the ever curious robot asked his friend.
"I was just remembering some of the things we did together while building his intergalactic vessel." answered Traveler. Rædis then laughed along with his friend. He knew through experience the kinds of things he and Traveler got up to and imagined the man doing whatever they needed to to get Zack Galactic back home.
"Do you know if he ever made it back to his own galaxy?" asked Rædis. Traveler shrugged.
"I don't know. Our engineering was solid and the void between galaxies is just that. Void. There's nothing to hinder his progress. Well...not nothing but the chances of running into anything are astronomical."
As Raedis was contemplating what Traveler was telling him, two shadows fell across their bodies in the sand. They looked from each other to the figures blocking the sun.
Traveler lowered his sunglasses and squinted at the figures but his sight was washed out by the light. Rædis, however, could see just fine. What he could see casting shade across them was also rather fine.
"Hello boys." a mellifluous voice said. Traveler lowered his glasses and when his vision finally normalized saw was the same as Rædis. Before them stood two fine females from humanoid races. Raedis thought the one with four arms was pretty neat and Traveler thought her full figured friend attractive.
"'Sup, ladies?" Raedis said and made a greeting gesture used across this part of space. Traveler simply nodded his chin at them.
"Hello." he said. He had no desire to kick it with any other vacationers especially female ones but Raedis was on vacation too so he let his friend go to it. Raedis began to stand when the women sat down in the sand next to him. With their long, shapely legs and curvaceous figures, Traveler was doing his best to ignore them but his friend was too entertaining when he talked to women. Traveler was going to fetch them more of the excellent drinks they were enjoying but first asked the women if they would like anything.
The one Traveler thought the cuter of the two smiled nervously and flashed him her grey eyes flirtatiously from behind her sunglasses.
"I'll have whatever you're drinking. My name is..." she began to introduce herself as Traveler sprung to his feet and instantly put them in the vintage Chuck Taylors he had worn to the beach because going barefoot was another thing he couldn't stand doing. His life was too action packed to be caught without decent footwear. In certain circumstances, it could even be fatal. As he laced up his blue sneakers he talked over the girl's introduction.
"I'm going for more drinks. See yous in a bit." he said, grabbed their little cooler and split before anyone could respond. The woman Traveler cut off looked at Raedis as if expecting an explanation for his hasty departure. Raedis shrugged and fixed her with what he hoped was a dashing but nonchalant expression.
"He's already had a couple of those mind zapping drinks. Do forgive him should he come across a bit...odd." is what Raedis went with once Traveler had left them. The female that fancied him watched Traveler started off in one direction, gained his bearings and began his trek across the crystalline sand to where the bar actually was. The girl watched him move about with a cute little laugh.
"I want to go after him. I think he's neat." she said and started to rise. However, Raedis interjected, stopping her.
"I think it probably best if you stay here and let him bring us drinks. Besides..." he said as he hooked a shiny finger into the waistline of her bikini. "...I can think of at least four things more fun than talking to my friend. He's got sand in his shorts anyway and is irritated."
The ladies laughed and by the time Traveler returned with fresh drinks for all, he had them completely convinced to hang out with him. After Traveler dolled out frosty new beverages Raedis pulled him aside for a quick word.
"Say mate...er, listen. Me 'an these girls here..." he began but Traveler knew where the gist of the conversation was headed he just wanted to arrive at the point much quicker than his friend. He sped things up, saving Raedis the explanation.
"Right, you wanna kick it with your new lady friends but don't need me around to tackle them both. I'm gonna take off for a bit while you attempt to fulfill that threesome fantasy of yours." said Traveler with a grin. "I hope you have better luck than last time." His grin turned into a proper laugh as he remembered the incident.
It was after a racing event that they did very well in and both he and Traveler had rooms full of fans partying it up. Traveler, who was with his love, Lisa, pointed out Raedis from across the hazy hotel suite.
"Watch Rae try and pick up those two women he's been hitting on all night." Traveler said pointing him out through other party people.
"Goin' for a threesome, is he?" she asked with a smile. "They're never as fun as they seem. More work than anything." commented Lisa but then amended that statement. "Well...unless ya get two on one. That gets wild." she said with a grin of remembrance. Traveler looked around at her in his arms.
"You've had threesomes? Two guys or you and another woman?" a suddenly very curious Traveler asked the woman. She could feel him tense under him.
"Well, yeah baby. One of each. Cripes, I was like...nineteen, twenty years old. I can't imagine what you were up to at that age." she said with a roll of her icy blue eyes. Traveler had to actually think about this for a longer moment than he wanted. "See!?" she said with a laugh. "At least I kept my sexual proclivities within my own species."
He shrugged, having no defense nor a need to. As far as they were both concerned, once having met, they were the only two people either of them ever wanted to be with.
"You three have fun. Do lots of stuff I would do." Traveler said with a smile and hastily departed the beach.
He bursted into his suite of rooms, immediately shed what he was wearing and took a shower that lasted an hour and thirty-seven minutes. He emerged rejuvenated with the seed of an idea sprouting in his brain. Nothing cleared the time traveler's mind like a long, hot shower. He used every little bottle of designer shampoo, cleanser and conditioner and, wrapped in no less than four towels, began to pick out what to wear around the adventure he was simultaneously researching on the room's enormous computer screen. It was a floor to cieling style that gently bent around the curve of the large room's exterior wall before transitioning stylishly into a window. Traveler had the glass currently set to cear as the drinks machine chimed, signaling it was ready.
What it served up was a pale green, fragrant brew with a minty aftertaste that Traveler found quite palatable after a few test sips. He would soon discover the drink also packed a hell of a stimulating wallop to his system.
"Computer." he summoned the room's machine.
"Yes?" it asked.
"Show me a topographical map of this planet and its relation to the sun."
The computer complied and on the large screen appeared his request. Traveler studied Paloma's Patch as it spun through space, locked towards its sun. "Computer, what's outside Paloma's Pleasure Patch? Show me photos, films, verbal info, etc..."
The computer then showed him what he wanted in documentary form. He summoned a chair over to sit in, bit on the end of a self lighting cigarette withdrawn from his silver case, watched and learned.
There wasn't very much information to learn. Beyond the boundary of the circle of sun that warmed the patch was a dark and frozen wasteland. However, much of it had never been explored, merely mapped from orbit.
"Computer, zoom in and rotate the planet left to right." Traveler requested and the computer complied. He scanned the terrain with keen eyes, plotting a route for himself to travel along. "I need a proper vehicle. Hmmm..." he thought aloud, talking to himself as was his way. "...something tracked, I think will do."
Next, he gave a rather complicated set of instructions to the computer back on Raedis' worldship. These were all about loading the required vehicle onto a transport and flying it down to the spaceport where he was. The easiest thing about the whole operation was paying the fees he amassed bringing down another vehicle. He rolled his eyes as his account was scanned and charged. He and Raedis would settle up before they left.
Once all of his preparations were made and he was ready to explore he made one last call to his friend to let him know what was up. Traveler could hear female laughter as soon as the phones were connected.
"What's up, Trav?" answered Raedis. He sounded as if he were fending off two sexy attackers.
In the room of the two girls he had met on the beach, that is exactly what he was doing.
"You sound like you're busy. I'm just calling to say I'm going off to do a bit of exploring. Do enjoy yourself." said Traveler to Raedis.
"You're going exploring. Copy that. I'm about to do a little exploring, myself..." he said. His next sentence was muffled by a pillow so Traveler ended the call and continued to ready himself. He looked around the room after summoning a porter android. He pointed to his luggage. It was voluminous but typical of the man.
"All this into the transport to the spaceport." he pointed to the pile, instructing the android. It began loading his luggage onto a cart it had brought with it while Traveler went to wait. It wasn't long before he was off. A group of youngish people had boarded the transport while he was buckling himself in. They were a tired looking lot who's vacation had come to an end. He grinned and turned his gaze out the of the window to watch the transport depart. He knew very well the look of partied out people who now have to complete a journey before true rest can be achieved.
After the transport was gliding on its way Traveler turned and got the attention of a young man sitting closest to him.
"Oi...lookin' pretty rough pal." he said, attempting the local language.
The dude slowly drug his eyes to meet Traveler's.
"I'm sorry. I don't speak the local language." he said in Traveler's own. This made things much easier for the both of them and Traveler's smile widened.
"Perfect 'cause I'm not as fluent in it as I come across. Yous all look like you've been having an excellent experience here at Paloma's. First time coming?" asked Traveler.
"Yeah man...we're on a sort of group trip. These are my school mates. We're studying interstellar law..." the student said and trailed off as his eyes closed down to mere slits. Traveler pulled his silver cigarette case from his jacket and gave the student a thin black cigar with a tip of gold foil. Traveler tapped the top of his head, regaining the student's attention.
"Here man. When we get to the spaceport spark this up. It'll get yer head right. Share it with you're friends but once it gets down to the foil, put it out. Oh...and don't tell anyone where ya got it, of course."
"Of course." repeated the young man. He hesitated, at first, but then:
"Holy shit! Is that really Traveler from the Flat Earth Racing Team?" he heard another young voice cry out. Traveler knew being recognized was a possibility wherever he went but it always seemed to be at the most inopportune times. He turned to face another twenty-something student lawyer who was apparently also a racing fan.
"I sure am and who are you group of guys and girls?" said Traveler as he switched seamlessly into a persona he usually reserved for the press. Soon most of the students were unbuckled with their heads craned around as far as the seats would allow.
"We are students of the Ambridge System University of Galactic Law." chimed one of the female students.
"Wow...that sounds totally boring. Honestly. I can't even pretend that's interesting." Traveler said, all smiles. Those upon the faces of the students failed to diminish despite his jibe against their chosen area of study.
The student who recognized him handed him a notebook and a pen. A few other of the students did the same. Traveler signed their books and smiled at the cheer he helped spread then kept to himself for the remainder of the ride to the spaceport.
Eight minutes later, the tram arrived and pulled into the port with an announcement that passengers were free to unrestrain themselves and move about as needed. Traveler collected the gear he brought with him and with a departing wave to the law students, went to find the ship he had brought down. He checked his phone for the lot number and hoofed it past a few choice looking pleasure vessels before reaching his own, bad-ass looking ship. He grinned upon looking down the line of neatly parked vessels because his was the coolest looking one he could see.
What he wanted was in the ship's hold so going around the back of the ship, he lowered its cargo ramp to reveal the machine he had brought down to Paloma's Pleasure Patch. It was a tracked vehicle specifically designed to run in cold, hostile environments and he thought perfect for exploring the area not lit by the planet's sun. Once he had the machine positioned he boarded to see how it was stocked.
Within the vehicle were two of everything with half the apparel being Raedis sized. This was good because it already meant he had twice what he thought he'd need after learning more about the planet. After making a list of the supplies in the vehicle plus whatever he could scrounge up in the transport ship he realized happily that he had everything he needed for his expedition and a further stop was unnecessary.
He grinned when he switched on the external monitors and saw his tank sitting ready in the hanger. The cameras were designed and angled to assist people in exiting the hanger and Traveler found them very useful when guiding the big tank out of the hanger and into the open air of Paloma's Pleasure Patch which, of course, was warm and sunny where he was. Traveler summoned up some maps, planned a route and hit the highway but only for as long as it took him to find a place to exit it for open terrain.
Once free of the restrictions of tarmac and out on the flat fields of the sunny patch of the planet Traveler tested the speed and suspension of his chosen vehicle. He eased the accelerator down with his left foot while preparing to brake with the other should he confront an obstacle such as a ditch or some sort of angle he could not get out of. The tank's visibility was shit so he deployed four drones equipped with cameras and other tools to aid the tank. On a screen before him was the four images the drones provided which allowed for much greater guidance of the big machine.
He smiled happily when he discovered that he could link the tank to the four drones. This allowed for greater off road speed because the terrain reading drones could talk to the tank's suspension and tell it when and how to compensate for changes in the land as he forged ahead.
"Hee-hee...!" Traveler chuckled to himself as he learnt to feel how to drive the agile, medium sized tank. "This is so freakin' awesome!" he continued. He punched the roof of the machine playfully. "Let's see what we can see outside Paloma's Patch..." he said aloud. He then selected a playlist of tunes from the tank's library and played it not only within but at a high volume through an excellent exterior sound system. As he transitioned from the warmth the ring of sunlight created, the outside temperature plummeted. The lighting also changed from a bright, cloudless blue to a flat grey light that cast no shadows to darkness all within less than fifty miles.
Traveler switched on the tank's racks of excellent lighting. White/blue beams of light shot from the machine while, in place of a turret cannon, was a powerful flood light to bathe entire swaths of area in soft illumination. He was now the brightest object within the darkness of Paloma's Pleasure Patch...or so he thought.
Raedis was watching the woman with four arms use three of her hands on her red-haired friend while pleasuring the robot at the same time. She had long, talented fingers and apparently was very tuned to how her friend liked them to be used on her because the woman was writhing on dexterous digits while two other sets of hands caressed her body. The redhead brought one to her lips and sucked on two of the fingers until they shone with a gloss of her saliva. She then used the slippery, sexy fingers on her own dripping genitals. The sounds the two women made as they played with one another and Raedis were probably his favorite aspect of the experience.
Traveler was cruising merrily along in what he now dubbed his 'space tank'. He discovered he could ramp it over certain terrain features at just the right angle. While learning this maneuver he fucked up pretty badly enough to realize he should probably keep his space tank joy riding to a very calculated minimum. He would hate to have to send out a distress call to his friend because vehicular silliness causes a crash he couldn't cruise away from. Yet it was during one of these leaps of derring do when he noticed a small flash of light deep in the darkness, just below the horizon.
He eased back on the throttle and found a high enough point on which to perch the space tank so he could see what this strange light was all about. He used the optics built into the space tank he scanned the horizon. There was no light. He panned his scan back the opposite direction and just as he was about to shrug and continue on he saw the small flash of light once again.
"Ha! That's what I thought!" he said aloud to himself and swug all of his space tank's lights and optics to bear on the mysterious flash of light. "That's not supposed to be there. Nothing is supposed to be there. Well...not nothing but you know what you mean." he said to himself. The optics yielded no further information about the flash.
Traveler grinned and withdrew a plain old joint of quality weed from his silver cigarette case. He sparked it up with an ancient blue Bic lighter and proceeded to totally bake out the small interior of the space tank.
"Now this...is a vacation." Traveler said relaxing in the control seat of his space tank and panned his lights around the desolation of the forever lightless landscape. He saw the flash again and began timing it. The single white flash lasted a blink of an eye and appeared every nineteen seconds. When magnified the flash merely became a larger white flash, still devoid of detail except for one small thing that caught Traveler's attention. At the base of every flash Traveler could make out the smallest of reflections. He would have gone to explore the flash regardless but seeing the reflection confirmed to him that a much larger structure remained obscured by the landscape and darkness.
Traveler purged the smoke filled cockpit of the tank and replaced it with fresh, filtered and heated air. He turned up his tunes inside and out of the space tank then made his way towards the strange flashing light.
Raedis laid back and let his two female companions take turns impaling themselves on a shining, riged appendage he produced for them at the correct anatomical position. He smiled the more noises they made while his eyes shone so brightly the women had to don their sunglasses. They took this to mean they were doing a good job on the weird machine/man and all three of them were laughing and otherwise having a blast.
Traveler laughed to himself inside his space tank and was having a blast as he crossed a great flat plain of frozen atmosphere at speed in his space tank. The music he had pumping through the external speakers of his machine could be heard for miles across the plain as he approached the flashing light, still unsure of what it was. He skidded the space tank to a stop and turned the tunes down. Next, he sent the tank's drones off to scout ahead. He was grateful for his caution because what the drones revealed was that the light was at the top of a tower which was sticking up just above the lip of a nearly hundred meter drop-off.
Built into this cliff face was a grand habitation. The light Traveler was seeing belonged to a sort of becon that marked out the location of the habitat within the neverending night of this part of Paloma's Planet.
"Whoa, what is this?" Traveler asked himself. He shone his beams of light along the length of the edge of canyon to look for a way down but eventually decided the best way to find a way to a lower level would be to simply follow the edge and see where it took him. Traveler rotated his tank until it was parallel to the rim of the canyon, switched the tunes back on and began his decent.
It took him three quarters of an hour to get down off the ridge but once on level, open ground again, he could open the taps on the tank and cover ground more quickly. As he rounded the mountain he just came down he saw what the bright white beacon was bouncing off of. It was an enormous glass enclosure built into the face of the rock. The enclosure contained a grand house surrounded by extensive grounds covered with gardens of a variety of flora including a few small, twisty trunked trees.
Traveler swung all his lights to bear on the habitat, studying it in detail on his screens as the drones flew around and over it. They returned data to the space tank about the enclosure and the structure within. They also revealed that there were two bipedal, humanoid looking forms lounging together inside.
"Now this is interesting. Who is this, I wonder?" he said aloud while leaning forward to peer closer at the bright, human shaped figures on his infrared monitor . However, his four dimensional mind was beginning to piece together whom they possibly could be. Because he did not know for sure though, he parked his cool space tank one hundred meters in front of the habitation, swapped playlists for one that was really chill and withdrew another joint from his case. Traveler sparked it up and, as he kicked back as much as he could get inside a tank, watched the figures move around inside the large building within the confines of the habitat.
What he saw wasn't scrambling around or panic rather the calm shuffling of two heat signatures within the grand structure. On the screen of the blobs of heat one appeared to approach a panel on a wall and press a button. Suddenly, over their communication channels, came a familiar, albeit much more wizened voice, than Traveler remembered.
"Who in all creation is making all the damned racket out there!?" it asked with some agitation. Traveler chuckled in his cockpit over the comm.
"Zack! It's me...Traveler! Remember? We were friends. I was trying to get you back to your own galaxy!" hollered Traveler both over the comm channel and aloud through his external speakers. There was a pause before a chuckle then a full-on laugh of hearty remembrance over the comm.
"Well I'll be damned. Get your inconsistent ass in here,Traveler old mate! And dim those bloody lights!" came Zack's laughing reply. Traveler smiled as he drove into the habitat. Once safely inside Zack Galactic sealed it shut behind his old friend and continued to prepare to recieve him. Traveler rolled to a stop and shut down the space tank. With its lights arrays switched off, Traveler could now see that the habitat was lit by tasteful mood lighting. It denoted the dawn of a new day as if the rising of a single, yellow sun were arcing above the mostly frozen world.
In a few moments a call came from the house presumably over an outdoor audio system.
"Traveler the habitat has repressurized and warmed back up. You may safely exit your sweet ride when you are ready." he said. Traveler popped the hatch of the space tank and slowly stuck his head up and panned his gaze around before fully exposing himself. Inside Zack Galactic and his companion watched him on a security screen. Zack laughed lightly.
"What's funny, baby?" his companion asked. Zack merely held up a finger meaning an explanation was on its way.
"Still the cautious type, eh Traveler?" Galactic asked with a little laugh over the comm. Traveler had donned a pair of thick gloves as not to touch the still freezing exterior of the tank and was busy carefully crawling off of it.
"Yeah." he said as his boots hit the ground. "It's why I'm still alive."
Zack Galactic could not argue with that. Just the adventures he shared with the man were as action packed as any he spent as a policeman in his own galaxy and there were a number of times where he actually doubted their survival.
Traveler never seemed to, however, and his confidence was infectious to his friends. This was always a plus when in a scrape or otherwise tricky situation. Right now, Traveler found himself in a tricky situation. He had discovered an old friend and at least one other person living on a part of a planet that was supposed to be devoid of life.
"Who else ya got with you out here in this desolation?" asked Traveler as he approached his old companion. As Zack Galactic closed the distance between them he reached out and grabbed Traveler's hand. He did not shake it but rather gripped it tightly with both hands as if to ensure to himself that the person he was talking to was really there.
"Of all the people... I never thought I'd see you again. And out here, of all places...are you kidding me!?"
He finally released Traveler's hand but only so he could gesticulate widly with both of them as he continued...
"It has to be at least what...fifty years since our adventures? You look amazing! I, not as much." he chuckled and Traveler opened his mouth thinking he could perhaps sneak a word in but Zack Galactic was quick and picked back up with nary a pause...
"You've got to come in and meet my lady. She's the reason I stayed in your galaxy. Holy shit, listen to me... You've got to come in!" he laughed and beckoned Traveler to follow him into his grand abode. "Yeah so obviously I stayed. Love has a way of throwing a spanner into even the best mechanics of a plan." said Zack. The man would have no doubt continued talking but Traveler's reaction to the entrance hall to his house compelled him to just watch Traveler take it all in.
"Holy shit, man... Nice place, Galactic. Did you buy or do ya rent?" he joked but continued. "Seriously though dude. I mean, I'm looking up but not seeing where this building ends. What a remarkable structure."
"Everything about the house culminates, design-wise anyhow, around the beacon at the top." interjected Zack Galactic.
"Yeah, about that..." Traveler began. Zack laughed and placed a hand on his old friend's shoulder. He began steering him out of the entranceway and further into the house.
"My Lady will explain the beacon. Relax. Drink?" asked Zack.
"Actually yes. Got anything warm?" Traveler asked. Zack Galactic snapped his fingers.
"I got just the thing. Standby."
He then made a small tablet appear in his left hand. It was a slight of hand trick he used to pull when they were in a pinch. He'd use it as a distraction or, if he was prepared, actually make something useful appear.
"Still doing that tired old trick?" said Traveler with a smirk. Zack Galactic laughed lightly.
"Oh I've learnt quite a few more that have come in quite...handy." Zack said as he typed on the tablet. He then made it disappear with a flourish of his fingers. Traveler laughed. The man had not lost the penchant for bad puns he was periodically prone to making.
"Let's continue." said Zack and began to walk them deeper into his abode.
"You said you had a woman." Traveler noted as they walked. Zack Galactic's house looked like a museum complete with exhibits of strange objects standing here and there yet nothing was in the way of the path of their progress. Traveler found it difficult to split his attention between the amazing array of alien objects and his old friend.
"I do. Or she has me. Either way we've been together for a long time." Zack Galactic thought for a second as he spoke then said: "Perhaps fourty of your years now. Very nearly, at least."
Traveler thought of his own woman and the way Zack put the relationship with his.
"...'or she has me.' I like that. I sorta got the same thing going with an awesome lady of my own. She's a fellow racing driver."
"Oh so that's what you do now. Pretty rad, Trav." interjected Zack.
"Well, yeah. Professionally, you might say." Traveler said and stopped at an object he simply could not pass by without comment. "Oh wow... Now this brings back memories. Hee-hee.."
The thing that gave him pause was an Alpha Centauri Police laser carbine. The old weapon was held on display, slowly rotating in a matter suspension beam. It was the weapon Zack Galactic came with on his trip along with his uniform and a pack of supplies. He insisted on brining it along with them on their adventures saying that he was still a police officer no matter what galaxy he was in.
Traveler often liked to remind him how far out of his jurisdiction he was.
Zack Galactic often punched him for these reminders. The two moved further into Zack's domain and Traveler was still rubber-necking at the collection of artifacts on display yet he was unnerved by the fact that no matter where he looked save the grand entranceway behind them, he could see no actual walls or boundaries within the building. He knew it had them. He'd seen the structure from outside however, within its confines, no walls could be seen much further past any portals they passed through. Zack noticed his old friend's befuddlement and smiled a sly half smile.
"See anything interesting?" Zack asked.
"Beyond these incredible artifacts arrayed very cleverly around, it's what I don't see that is odd." answered Traveler. "Once within a room or rather, space or area, as it were, one cannot make out the boundaries of the room. Makes everywhere seem..." Traveler stalled a second. He found the illusion strange to describe. Not difficult just weird. Zack Galactic watch his friend's face complete a series of contemplative expressions. He chuckled lightly.
Finally, Traveler came up with his description.
"Makes every room seem enormous. Almost endless like it's a much more vast area than it is. But they can't be. I've seen the outside. Plus, the sound is all wrong. A room this huge should have more reverb!" Traveler said this last word loudly to demonstrate. "How's it done? Holography?" Traveler wondered to his friend.
"Nope. Way cooler than that. I knew an amazing artist who could paint with such photorealism even a keen eye would have difficulty determining his work from an actual photo. Got a coin on ya?" asked Zack.
Traveler produced a token from the casino in his hotel. It was three inches in diameter and thick with a smooth edge. It was made of mostly iridium and had a rainbow sheen to it as well as a good heft. He held it up and Zack plucked it deftly from his hand.
"See that hallway down there." Zack said pointing to a corridor about ten meters to their left. Traveler nodded. "Watch."
Zack then whipped the token at the corridor, side arm. Just when Traveler thought it would sail down the corridor, it bounced off the wall it really was and fell to the grey stone floor with a ring. Traveler went to the wall. He slowly reached out and touched it. He drew in a surprised breath when, just when he thought his hand would continue forward, his fingertips touched the wall. His old friend smiled and laughed.
"Good, innit?" said Zack Galactic.
"It's incredible. The artist is incredible. Who was it?" asked Traveler through his amazement. "Even up close, ya can't tell." he said a nose-length away from the wall.
"C'mon. I forget the dude's name. My Lady knows. She's the one who had this place built." Zack said. He grabbed Traveler by his sleeve and tugged him along. In a few steps Traveler was again following his friend. He was lead through another room to an elevator the doors of which were painted in the same style as the rest of the walls he'd seen since he arrived. He'd never would have known it was there. He said again about the painting of the rooms: "This is incredible work."
"Yeah, yeah..." Zack Galactic said and ushered his old friend into the lift.
"Be sure to tell my Lady what you think of the decor. She'll get a kick out of it. We don't entertain very many guests so I'll haveI'll have to let you know you're here and who you are before I introduce you."
Once inside the lift Traveler could finally get a well-lit view of his friend's face. Traveler was surprised to see how little he had aged since he had last seen the man. His curiosity finally got the better of him and he had to ask.
"Zack...how long has it been since we last saw each other?"
Zack Galactic thought about this as the lift doors shut and he pressed a button marked with the glyph of a number Traveler did not recognize.
"Wow...it must be nearly fifty of your years."
The lift doors closed and Traveler studied his old friend.
"You wear them well, pal." he said to Zack Galactic.
"Thanks pal." Zack said as the lift rose quickly and silently to the desired floor. Once it arrived it 'dinged' once and opened its doors.
"Nice touch, the bell sound.' Traveler chuckled.
"I knew you'd dig that." Zack said as he fell easily into Traveler's pattern of speech.
He walked from the elevator into another extraordinary room. Again, because of the way the room was painted, it's boundaries were difficult to define. The decor, which involved plants from a variety of worlds that could still flourish on Paloma's Planet filled a large amount of the huge room. There were pathways through the plants that only those who lived there knew the route through. This apparently consisted of Zack Galactic and Paloma.
Traveler followed the former spaceman through the forest of exotic flora some of which they recognized, beautiful others were new to them. Traveler paused before a meter wide flower with psychedelic leaves that pulsated brilliant waves of purple to blue at the tips.
"Zack, this place is awesome. Did you collect all of these marvelous plants and flowers and stuff?" Traveler asked reaching out to touch the mesmerizing flower.
"I spent some time assembling a few samples of this collection but most of this was arranged by Paloma when she had this place built. Ah...be careful touching that flower. It's effects can be slightly..." Zack trailed off looking for the right word.
"Trippy?" Traveler helped him.
"Yes. That'll do. Basically the oil it secretes through its leaves has a hallucinogenic effect.
The universe never ceases to astound me." said Zack Galactic with a shake of his head.
"Yeah well maybe if you got out more instead of holing yourself up on the shittiest part of a paradise planet-" Traveler began a jibe but Galactic was not about to give his old friend the chance to mock his prosperity and in terms his old friend would recognize said:
"With its creator, administrator and owner and you aren't even fully aware of just what me 'an Paloma can do from over here. Now quit draggin' ass and let's get moving."
Traveler shrugged, licked his fingers that touched the plant and followed after his friend.
"You two ever think about incorporating some cool little vehicles to more quickly move about this place, spaceman?" Traveler asked Zack. Zack smiled across to his old friend as they walked.
"Oh, we got plenty of little carts and scooters and stuff to get about the grounds with sure. I just thought you'd appreciate a tour."
"You'd be surprised how detailed I can take in info at speed. I'm a racing driver after all, old man." said Traveler, nudging him with his elbow.
"Yes, yes...I've seen you and your unique teammate race. We get a myriad of galactic channels over here. Now there is a dude I'd love to meet. An actual member of the legendary machine race. I've seen his worldship too when you two bring it to events that can support it. It must be astounding inside!" an increasingly excited Zack Galactic spouted. He looked toward Traveler for info. "Well...what's it like!?" he asked again, more insistently.
"Oh c'mon old friend!" Traveler said and socked the man's upper shoulder (Which he found surprisingly solid and bulky.) "Do you think I'd not show you something that fantastic after all this time!?"
Zack Galactic smiled warmly.
"It's really cool to see you again, man."
"Do you mind if I smoke?" asked Traveler as they walked.
"Still burning those smoldering sticks of yours, huh?" Zack asked with a small laugh. "You know...had it not been your copious appetite for strange substances how much trouble we could have avoided back in the day?"
This time Traveler laughed.
"Ha! When I was on the Machine planet I had my substance problems fixed. I can now pilot the time machine without the need to get so twisted." Traveler informed Zack with pride. "I have become an extremely adept time traveler."
He reached into his jacket and slid his silver case of smokes out. He selected a thin smoke wrapped in dark blue paper. It had a golden colored filter tip. He offered his old comrade one. Zack looked at the half dozen colorfully wrapped tubes within the case.
"How are the red ones?" the man asked as he picked one out from the case.
"Pretty wild but nothing nuttier than what's already going on." came Traveler's nonspecific answer.
"Meh...for old time's sake. said Zack. He put the smoke between his teeth regardless and bit on the filter. The opposite end of the cigarette sparked to life as Zack inhaled the initial drag and let it mingle with his mind. A wave of nostalgia washed over him.
"Ohhh yeah...just like I remember the red ones." he said as he exhaled slightly luminescent smoke while they walked. Traveler chuckled and ignited his own smoke. It was composed simply of a fine tobacco blend that he cultivated for himself on Raedis' worldship. Together they smoked and laced their way through the terrarium and closer to where Paloma awaited them.
Raedis slid himself from the bed where his two partners laid entwined, sleeping soundly. He gently covered them with one of the shiney sheets. Apparently he had sated the two women to exhaustion and was happy about that. He made himself one of the drinks Traveler had made for him earlier and wondered what his friend was doing. Out on the balcony of their room he lit a smoke of his own and looked out over the beautiful city as the daily demarcation lights began to emulate a morning hue high up above. He heard one of the women moan and beckon him sleepily back to the bed. He extinguished his cigarette and joined her.
"How ya doing?" he asked as she pulled him back down close to her.
"I am really good. But..." she trailed off fixing him with a lusty look while she let the sheet slide from her shoulder. "...I could always be better."
"After we eat first..." came the second woman's voice from under the sheet. The other two laughed.
Raedis had learnt their names on the beach after Traveler left but the two women had cried them out in the throes of passion so many times they almost made him laugh when he heard them used in a normal, conversational manner.
"Mmmm...great idea, Las! the woman with four arms said as she slid the sheet from her friend. "Should we dress and go out or stay in and have sex sustaining sustenance delivered to our room? "
Both women looked at Raedis.
"What do you feel like doing, Raedis?" He looked down the body of the uncovered woman. She was so very lovely, he thought. And, so very good at what she had done to him he would certainly enjoy getting their energy back up and repeating the whole performance. However, he also wouldn't mind getting all dressed up and taking the women out for a grand meal. He suggested the later.
"I think you and Las should put on your finest outfits and we go out to show ourselves off. How about that, Val? " he said as he slid her closer to him by pulling the sheet she was laying on. Once again he had them both in his lap. He tucked their hair behind their ears as they looked up at him. He, in turn, looked at all three of them framed in the large mirror opposite the bed they were on. It made for a hot picture so he took one.
"I love that idea!" an excited Las said as she hopped up from the bed. She made for the bathroom with Val close behind. Raedis stood and collected his clothes. As he made for the door he hollered to them over the spray of the shower.
"Come to my room when you two are ready." He gave them his room number and left to prepare himself.
Traveler and Zack Galactic reached a normal, spacey looking door once through the weird painted rooms and small exotic plant forrest. Traveler found the juxtaposition comforting. Once close enough, the hexagonal door opened like an iris with an appropriate mechanical hum. Traveler followed his friend through it into a grand library in the shape of an amphitheater. Circuits of books circled the big space in decreasing diameter until, at the bottom, on a very comfortable looking sectional style sofa sat Paloma.
She rose upon seeing the men enter and stood next to a solid looking table of green marble. The library was well lit in key places and subdued in others. Paloma stood in the perfect place to be seen for the first time. Traveler studied her appearance in detail. It was easy to see that she was old but very difficult, even for the time traveler, to tell just how. Her age, at three hundred and sixty three, was much older than Traveler would have guessed for she didn't look a day over seventy human years.
She was tall and the blue tint of her race had gone from a powdery blue to a dark, azure hue. Her hair was to her waist, shiney platinum in color and styled into dozens of long, tight little braids. Her eyes were a piercing light grey. When she smiled at Traveler it made him feel special. As if a very wise and really fun being that has amassed amazing experiences wanted to party with him.
This was pretty much the case but it didn't make him feel any less privileged.
She retained the curvaceous structure of her species but at her extreme age lacked the flesh to fill it out like she used to in her two-hundereds. A vain woman, she wore properly padded out ensembles of the highest fashions of her world but she wore them well.
"Hello Traveler!" she hailed him in greeting. The sound of her voice was higher in tone than Traveler reckoned it would be for a woman of her build but whatever, the look of total warmth she was still beaming at him was all he really noticed.
"Hello Paloma. I have to admit, it's not often I'm rendered speechless but ya got me, miss." he said with the most sheepish look he'd used since Lisa Hole caught him in a lie about time traveling with Raedis once. Paloma thought it was adorable.
"Holy hells, Zack! You didn't tell me he was so cute. I am Paloma, young man." She crossed to him in a few graceful strides, reached down and took his hand. She raised it to her lips, kissed the back of it then clutched it to her breasts. "I love him Zack." she said releasing his hand. Traveler actually blushed and even though he had not seen his friend in a long time, Zack Galactic knew that this was a very rare reaction from Traveler in almost any circumstance. Traveler didn't even try to hide his humility in the presence of the austere woman.
"Thank you, Paloma. It is not often one gets to meet a nearly mythological figure in the realm of holidays, vacations and getaways." Traveler said once he regained his composure. Paloma laughed a silvery laugh that Traveler immediately wanted a recording of.
" 'Mythological'! Ha! Did you hear that, lover? I am now regulated to myth." she laughed and crossed to a cooly lit bar and began to make them all drinks. Traveler looked over at his old friend.
"Mythological...I can see that." he said. "No one knows much about you personally or what you really look like."
Traveler laughed at this. He had seen many representations of Palona during his stay on her planet. Everything from sexy, pin-up style prints to actual fine paintings of the Patch's enigmatic founder. Now that he has seen the real woman he surmised that, over the span of her considerable years, Paloma was a woman of innumerable styles and high-end fashion. None of the depictions, however, got her face correct.
"That's true enough. Cripes Paloma, there is no lack of all manner of depictions of you all around the Patch." said Traveler, recovering from unexpectedly being star struck. Paloma smiled her bright smile. Traveler actually had to look to his friend to avoid the effects of it.
"What in the world made you want to venture all the way out into a frozen wasteland when Paloma's Patch offers pretty much anything anyone could want?" asked Zack.
Traveler sipped his drink gratefully.
"I spent some time in a casino or two and even on the beach with Raedis but you know me, man...I wanted an adventure. I honestly didn't expect to find yous out here."
"Well, now that you have..." said a beaming Paloma. "...I ensist you be our guest. You've got to be hungry after such a trek."
Now that she had said something, Traveler realized he hadn't eaten since his space tank lunch break and was pretty hungry.
"Sounds like a fantastic idea, Paloma. Do lead the way and show me more of this amazing house." said Traveler, resigning himself to their hospitality. Paloma laced her arm around his while Zack walked on her opposite side.
Traveler wondered what Raedis was up to...
Raedis was currently picking out an outfit to wear to dinner with his two new party mates. Before beginning to dress, however, he buffed his metallic exterior free of any traces of bodily fluids with a towel, laughing to himself as he did. He then selected a purple ensemble made of crushed velour with an silver, open collar shirt under the jacket. For shoes he wore black, pointy tipped, ankle high black boots that had chrome zippers up the sides.
He checked himself out in his room's excellent mirrors and, satisfied, went to meet the women.
Raedis did not see them when he first entered the hotel lobby so he went for a drink. The glossy black wedge of the bar was made from a dense and exotic wood from somewhere on the Patch and had been hand polished so finely it was nearly frictionless.
When Raedis stepped up and placed his hands on it he immediately withdrew them on account of the unexpectedly odd feeling.
"Whoa...what the fuck?" he said and slowly touched the bar top again. He slid his finger around quickly, slowly and in various directions analyzing it with his touch. The bartender watching him do this never tired of seeing this routine of discovery. He sauntered down to Raedis, polishing a red crystal glass with a fine silvery cloth.
At first he greeted Raedis in a language that was unfamiliar to him.
"I don't speak that language." he told the bartender who turned and put the glass away. In a while he turned back.
"It took me a moment to remember this one but...here it is. Now, what can I get you?" he said in the most outrageous accent Raedis had ever heard and he loved it.
"Make me your best. That would be great, thanks." said Raedis, smiling from the man's speech.
"You got it mister. I am Rollino." said Rollino as he got to work on the drink. At first he began to make a show of it but when he saw that Raedis was focused on the entrance to the hotel he understood the shiney man must be waiting for someone. He brought Raedis his drink which brought the robot out of his vigil. He turned to face Rollino.
"I'm Raedis, Rollino. Please excuse me. I am waiting for some friends. Say man...why is this bartop so slippery. It is weird and well...hazardous."
Rollino gave a thin smile. His agile fingers comleted the drink as he added some phosphorescent garnish.
"It is so I can do amazing looking tricks, such as this..." Now having the atten of Raedis, Rollino mixed up another drink this time performing his show. Various crystalline bottles were drawn from chilled slots and tossed around until Rollino added precise amounts of brightly colored booze to the concoction in arcs of liquid that only ever landed in the glass he was using to catch them. The performance ended when Rollino popped a green cube of frozen liquid like a coin high above the bar. It landed in the center of the glass with a plunk. The whole drink changed from a clear golden color to an opaqu purple. Rollino then dumped the whole concoction into an actual, ornate drinking glass. "Now...the reason for the bartop." said Rollino. He very gently slid the drink across to Raedis, adding a slight spin to it.
As the glass traveled across the bar the liquid inside eferevest and tiny glowing bubbles formed, popping in a very fine firework-like display when reaching the top. "Try this drink. It will pass the time and relax you."
Readis looked down at the drink. Rollino watched its colors reflect off Raedis' face as he deftly raised it off the bar at took a hearty sip. He analyzed its composition and overall flavor and approved.
"Very excellent, Rollino! What do you call it?" asked Raedis.
"Sexy guests." replied Rollino.
"Odd name but good as any, I reckon." shrugged Raedis.
"No, no...just walked in. You lookin' for them you lucky silver man?" Rollino said and pointed. Raedis followed his directional indication and saw Las and Val cruising through the front doors. His eyes widened at their appearance and also shone bright enough to light up the tastefully lit bar. He turned abruptly away, closing them but not before flashing his brights at Rollino. He also created a flash like a strobe light off the glossy black bar. The women saw this and laughed as all eyes in the immediate area were all temporarily dazzled.
"Well. That was pretty smooth of you, friend Raedis." laughed Rollino as he rubbed vision back to his eyes. Raedis downed the drink and got control of himself. Upon opening his eyes they were bright but bearable. He turned back to his new friends. The robot actually not discern which one was Val and which was Las. He wanted to cooly watch their approach and began to lean back on the bar. His elbows slid unexpectedly on the frictionless surface and he very nearly did something extremely rare. He almost lost his balance. However, with laser quick thought he turned his stumble into an acrobatic spin onto one of the bar's stools, crossed his legs and resumed his watch of their approach.
Having seen what he had just done and how artfully he recovered, the two women laughed across the bar. It rang out like magnificent bells across the space between them. Both couldn't resist vamping for him a little as they closed that space. They were both wearing complicated ensembles composed of mostly illuminated straps and small pieces of strategically placed, shiney fabric.
"Hole-lee-shit..." Rædis muttered, borrowing an oft used phrase from Traveler. His eyes ticked up in luminosity with every blink until he got himself under control.
"Damn dude... Fine company indeed." he said, admirering the women as they approached him. "Hee-hee...it's always party time at the Patch." Rollino said laughing to himself and crossing to the women to take their orders.
A Young Time Traveller Goes to War
(And the sad song that helped me more clearly visualize a crucial episode in Traveler’s past. https://youtu.be/GVW8_lvs_vs )
The time traveler cracked dust between his gritted teeth as he hauled himself across hot, scorched ground. The smoldering wreckage of his crashed fighter fizzled and popped twenty meters behind the jagged trail he left in the terrain as he clawed towards his time machine. He had to ditch his helmet after spilling out of the shattered cockpit of the fighter to avoid suffocating as it was no longer supplying him with breathable air.
This was bad because the air he was now breathing was poisonous as well as radioactive. It singed the back of his throat and burned his eyes.
He could see his time machine through his hazy vision. Almost there. This was good because outside of its temporally indifferent confines and advanced medical capabilities he only had minutes to live.
Far away on the horizon, against a ruined sky, the last of a fleet of giant airships fell into the jagged, decimated remains of a once great city. Burning with blue flames like a rapidly setting alien sun. He shut his eyes as he crawled but the blinding demise of the vessel still hurt as jagged psychedelic splotches crackled painfully like electricity arcing across his optic nerves. He could feel its impact through the ground accompanied by a sound like distant rolling thunder once the noise caught up with it. His eyes would be soaked with tears if the moisture did not instantly evaporat into the hot, toxic atmosphere.
This had been his first attempt to change the history of a world on such a vast scale. When he had first heard of this world and the cataclysmic, strife driven sterilization of its civilization he was so sure he could have changed the outcome of the events that led it to this end. He was so wrong. And now, out billions of souls, he was the only one left alive.
It was the hubris of a young time traveler that had brought him to this moment. The thinking that he was clever enough and could see deeply enough into the boiling pool of cause and effect that was time to prevent such a catastrophe.
Once at the door of his machine he popped a glove off his hand and slapped it with a bare palm. The pock marked mystery metal of its exterior was hot enough to burn his skin quite badly but the door slid open regardless. He hauled himself inside with the last of his strength and sealed it shut before passing out.
On the floor of the small airlock section the now activated time machine assessed his status and began to detoxify his exterior and rid him of radiation. He laid there for a long time before he was strong enough again to stand and strip himself of his tattered flight suit. He then made his way to the drive section and fell into the chair before the banks of screens and controls.
He took one last look at the lifeless, ravaged world outside but there was nothing left that he wanted to see. All that he knew of this world, everyone he cared about, fought with, for and even loved were all gone. Now there was only him.
He thought about going back and trying again. But then thought...why even try? It would only be more difficult the second time around and the outcome could be even worse. He barely survived this attempt.
He shut the screens off and limped into the sleeping quarters. He still needed major medical care. As he lay in the bunk and let the machine begin to tend to him with drugs and technology he came to a critical decision.
If wanted to continue traveling in time he would have to harden his heart, get accustomed to mind bending paradox and abandon normal human attachments and relationships for he would become far removed from any normal human. He would have to reconcile himself to the singularly isolating condition of existing outside of time.
But how could he not? It was so damned fun when he got it right. He clearly had a lot still to learn. The torment of this failed attempt to cheat time had taught him much. When he was well enough to move again he cleaned himself, donned a magnificent suit and once again sat before the controls. He needed a vacation. Time to piece his shattered heart and fractured mind back together.
He selected a more peaceful time deep in the planet’s past until he could figure out a way to take himself and his machine off this doomed world entirely. He could no longer bear the thought of staying here knowing what he knew of its future. The first step, he reckoned, in no longer caring. The time traveler lit a drug laidened cigarette, engaged the machine’s motors and faded away...alone.
Fashion. Turn to the Left!
Rædis initially thought that Traveler's uncanny and impeccable fashion sense stemmed from his exposure to a vast wealth of cultures across countless ages. The truth, he discovered, was far more amusing.
Traveler's incredible sense of style was actually the side effect of one of the many drugs he habitually used. This was first observed by the machine after Traveler had spent a month away at a luxury hospital. Traveler would check himself into such places from time to time in order to detox and restore essential life functions that were particularly susceptible to prolonged time travel.
Traveler returned to the ship invigorated with an energy and youthful exuberance that belied his actual physical years.
However, he was dressed much more subdude than Rædis had ever seen him. So much so that he almost felt embarrassed for his friend that he should be seen in such a state of ordinary and plain dress. He imagined Traveler would want to change into something much more extravagant as soon as possible but Traveler barely gave his attire a thought and was merely happy to be home. He retired to settle back into the quarters he lived in and wasn't seen for two days.
When he emerged Rædis was expecting to greet his friend as he usually appeared, well dressed and ready for action. Traveler however, was wearing a white v-neck t-shirt, denim jeans of faded black and a beat up pair of grey Chuck Taylors on his feet. Ready for action he may be but he looked like a high school kid with low self esteem.
"Hello Trav. Good to see you." Rædis said in greeting. "We've reached our destination and the race organizers of this system are eager to meet us. Are you ready to go out?" He asked his shabbily dressed friend.
"Yes, totally. It's good to be back." Traveler responded happily and tapped a series of buttons readying their shuttle and started for the hangers. Rædis hesitated.
"You sure you're ready? I mean...do you have everything you need?" He said trying to bring attention to Traveler's appearance without actually coming out and saying anything. Traveler stopped and patted himself down. Rædis thought this was his friend beginning to second guess his chosen attire but Traveler was just ensuring that he had his wallet, keys and phone.
"Yeah, I'm ready. Got all I need. Let's go." He said. Rædis was a little confused and stayed put. Traveler stopped and looked at him.
"Something wrong Ræ? You look apprehensive." He said to the robot.
"I'm not sure, it's just that..." he trailed off then said: "It's just that... Well, is that what you're going to wear?" He asked his friend. It felt odd even having to question this man on matters of couture.
"Yes, of course. These cats look pretty laid back. Why? You think these sneakers are too dressy?"
Rædis found the question unfathomable. The fact that his friend, a veritable fashion plate for the ages, would ask if sneakers were too dressy was something he never imagined hearing. He chose to hide his dismay and find out more about the curious condition his friend seemed to be in since his return and watch him.
Over the next few days there was no change in his friend's slapdash fashion. Then, a week after his return he appeared for lunch wearing a dark purple sport coat of velvet. It was old and worn at the elbows but when added to his current jeans and sneakers gave him a sort of vintage, hipster kind of look. Certainly not up to his normal standards in any way but was a marked improvement on what he'd been wearing lately and was the first semblance of any attempt at a specific style in days.
And so it continued. At first, every couple of days different, subtle changes appeared in Traveler's wardrobe. He added a pocket square to the faded sport jacket he'd taken to wearing. It was red and made from the fine silk of worms, thousands of years ago. It clashed furiously with everything else he would wear but, in itself, was at least an improvement.
Next came the spats over his shoes. They too were very old and in fine condition but neither matched nor fit properly over his sneakers. When questioned about them he nervously evaded the query, preferring to divert attention to whatever the task at hand was at the time.
Over the ensuing days more odd bits of fashion from the past to far in the future were mixed into Traveler's daily attire. They were obscure things like the detachable collars and sleeves on 19th century male dress shirts of old Earth to very complicated things like the holographic underwear worn by a future race of beings with wildly differing genital proportions.
What Rædis found most intriguing was that once Traveler realized his attire was drawing attention he began to go to great lengths to hide, even deny his expanding affinity for mismatched haute couture. For example, it was hilarious to see him try to conceal a fine bowler hat under a hoodie at a hockey game one evening.
On another night he and Rædis went to dinner at one of the nicer restaurants located in a small city sector of Rædis' giant ship.
Traveler appeared in a pair of comfortably worn red leather jeans, his favorite black engineer's boots and a lovely, beautifully tailored dress shirt complete with diamond studded cufflinks and cummerbund flecked with rainbow chips . He wore a green velour zip up track jacket to complete the ensemble.
Each piece if his clothing on it's own was very nice but was absurd in combination. When Rædis pointed this out to the man, he insisted the machine had no clue about what constituted fashion and sat through the entire evening seemingly indifferent to the giggles of the others they met for the meal.
When asked about his friend's mismatched attire, Rædis simply said that Traveler was currently undergoing a unique therapeutic experiment that had certain fashionable side effects. Those that knew the man just accepted this as one of his weird eccentricities. Those that did not just accepted it as weird.
Always, after the passage of an inconsistent amount of time and once their activities in the fourth dimension resumed, Traveler's sense of fashion would normalize and he would once again be the coolest dressed adventurer to ever muck around in time and space. When paired with his best friend, the two of them were a fantastic sight to behold no matter where their endeavors took them. Their constantly evolving style was a trademark of their association.
You may not know who they were, where they came from or remember exactly what they did when they were around but one thing Traveler and Rædis ensured was that no one ever forgot how awesome they looked.
Traveler’s Practical Joke...
Early on in his racing career, while he was rapidly making a name for himself, a younger Traveler (Still merely 'Brian Sands' at this time.) devised one of the most complicated jokes he ever was able to perpetrate without the use of time travel.
This elaborate jibe was done at the expense of another racer with what Traveler found to be the unusually hilarious name of Phil McCrackin.
This name, Phil McCrackin, was not only funny in English but, oddly enough, in 124 other major Galactic languages recieving the race in their various systems, for exactly the same reason. Traveler's grand practical joke was this:
His goal was to get the two the famous galactic announcers that called the race to use Phil McCrackin's name in the manner he considered hilarious, live and repeatedly during a race as many times as possible. The hardest thing about pulling this off would be explaining the joke to his fellow racers, convincing them why it was funny, getting them to all go along with it...
Basically, his challenges were myriad however, to be known to have perpetrated such an elaborate ruse against a fellow racing driver and for no other reason than his slightly hilarious name, was good enough for Traveler. He began to formulate what he wanted to happen...
Phil McCrackin, Phil McCrackin...he tossed the name around in his in his mind. That was the fun thing about the dude so that's what he wanted to base the joke around.
He decided to shower. He did his best thinking and planning under streaming hot water and the hotel he was currently in had excellent, perpetually hot showers in bathrooms full of bottles of designer liquids to clean and refresh. Plus, of course, a bevy of towels and a plush robe.
In short order he was relaxing on a padded bench rubbing soaps into his skin with a sponge. He had shapped his hair into a mohawk. Over the bathroom's speakers thumped energizing beats he found quite excellent and although they contained no words, Traveler had no problem coming up with lyrics of his own.
He was using a sponge on a stick as a microphone rapping along to the beat that was on.
Tomorrow we'll be on the track 'an
I, I wanna play a joke on his stupid ass
But I gotta make sure dat I still
His stupid ass
On da track wit Phil McCrack...'
He stopped rapping when he realized coming up with rhyming lyrics was diverting him from thinking of his joke.
"It has to have to do with his name..." Traveler said to himself as he washed shampoo from his eyes just as it began to sting them.
Once he was clean, completely rinsed and free of soap, he sat on the shower's padded bench, tilted all of its heads to massage him at various angles, turned the water to very nearly scalding hot, sat and thought.
Seventeen minutes later the idea hit him and bloomed across his face in the form of thin lipped smile.
"Oh wow... This'll be good." he said aloud and promptly shutdown the shower.
Silk Autosound and Vox Nounzer were two very popular media personalities that covered various galactic racing classes, types and teams. Traveler knew that the pair would be calling this race. The idea that the shower helped bloom in his brain was, throughout the race, have the two use Phil McCrackin's name in various hilarious sentences, as often as possible.
"Car number fifty-five has taken an aggressive posture to Phil McCrackin!" said Traveler, imitating Vox Nounzer, the male of the pair. His mirthful laughter filled his hotel room as he began dressing.
Now that he had decided upon this prank, he had to plan how to pull it off. He would require co-conspirators which would have to be fellow racers to set up the elaborate linguistic joke. But, he was now determined to pull it off. Afterall, the replay of the race would be recorded for posterity. People generations from now watching this race would hear how it all went down.
This brought another, important thought to Traveler's mind. Other than the joke, this race has to be spectacular. A real nail-biter to the very end with a battle for podium places between key teams. Traveler laughed aloud again because the very mechanics of the joke infiltrating his intellect would ensure an exciting race from the starting cannon to the ubiquitous checkered flag. A quality contest was basically built into it or, in another way, because of it.
Traveler hurried himself to leave his room and put his silly machinations into action.
The first thing he had to do was get his own team in on the joke and that began with Mr. Bright, The Flat Earth Racing Team chief of basically everything.
The Emergency Button
“I did not see that coming.” said Traveler.
“Shame, that.” grumbled his friend.
Rædis and his friend Traveler were racing towards doom uncertain at a six hundred miles per hour in a machine they put together themselves the previous day.
Rædis was driving and Traveler was looking out of the windshield at the approaching doom. He marveled at its size and complexity. It was a city sized machine for creating other cities. An entire industrial facility that could roll along, devouring the land and leave in its path waterways, roads, power grids, etc. The infrastructure of an entire city could be laid down blocks at a time.
The problem was that they were racing in a canyon only slightly larger than the width of the machine. As they wound their way through it under Rædis’ excellent pilotage they had no way of knowing that after a certain bend in the canyon they would run right smack into the thing.
“You know, as the co-driver and therefore navigator, I blame you for this.” Rædis said unhelpfully. They were traveling way too fast to turn around as such a maneuver would drive them into the narrow canyon walls nor could they stop because the craft they were in possessed no starter and this would only delay their demise as the juggernaut that was the infrastructure machine would eventually plow them over.
The choice to not include a starter was both a weight saving decision as well as a time saving one since, as noted, they only knocked this vehicle together the day before.
Traveler was undaunted by his friend’s pessimism. It was at times like this that despite his aloofness, unsentimental detachment, copious drug use and quixotic tendencies, he was astoundingly capable. His four dimensional thought had been so honed over time that, in situations of extreme stress, his ability to see the most favorable outcome of numerous possibilities and act on them without hesitation had become instinctual. He lived for times like this.
This was not to say he was reckless or precipitous in his passion for thrill seeking. He would not be a successful time traveler were those among his dominant characteristics. He would very probably just be dead. But he did enjoy pressing his skills and luck to the limit every now and again. He would not be a successful racing driver if he didn’t.
Fortunately for the two friends, although they didn’t know it just yet, as well as not including a starter, they did include the ‘Ikdid’. This was an inscrutable piece of apparently obsolete racing equipment Rædis had purchased far in the future on a whim during one of their temporal excursions. His rationale was, if it was obsolete so far ahead in time then back in their own era, it may prove to be useful. Or, at the very least, amusing. However, despite numerous experiments in a variety of vehicles it had failed to produce any effect what so ever.
The component itself was rectangular, about the size of a match box. Within it, Traveler once observed as Rædis was working on it, were more moving parts than he had ever seen in such a small package. It also contained a single, very friendly looking, circular button that when powered, lit up the most reassuring shade of green Traveler had ever seen.
Rædis slowed the vehicle as much as possible without causing it to stall. This bought them the few precious seconds Traveler needed to decide what to do.
“I’m gonna try the Ikdid.” he announced.
“Please do.” Rædis said as there was no other option. He need not have Traveler’s unique perception to realize this. Traveler reached out and flipped up the clear cover Rædis had installed over the button and mashed it with a gloved finger. The thing then did something that, in all of their previous attempts to activate it, it had never done before. It began to blink rapidly. They both looked at each other, astonished then back at the button. It then did a second amazing thing. It changed color. The button changed from its happy green hue to an alarming and rather frightening bright red. It also emitted a sound that no one would mistake for anything but an alarm.
For Love of Lisa
A pensive Traveler flipped through electronic pages of presents he wanted to purchase for the love of his life, Lisa. He muttered to himself with some agitation. A curious Raedis couldn't help but wonder what had his friend in such a state.
"What's up, Trav?" he asked with genuine care.
"Oh it is this 'holiday'." Traveler said using air quotes around the word holiday to denote his dubious feeling about it.
Raedis smiled and his silvery eyes flashed mirthfully.
"I suspected that's what it might have been."
He then thought for a second. "Wait. Lisa's not from the Earth. How does she know about Valentines Day 'an all that?" he asked. Traveler looked over at Raedis from the passenger seat of the small, quick coupé they were currently in. It was one of Raedis' cars. Mid-engined with two doors, it resembled a Pontiac Fiero. Raedis loved the little thing. Because of the placement of its motor, the car had the ability to pivot around the engine like a wheel around an axel and Raedis was very skilled at employing this maneuver at just the right times in their little shopping expedition to keep it fun.
Traveler sighed heavily. His breath left a circle of steam on the cold glass as it was currently winter on the world they were on. He watched it quickly evaporate then replied.
"Because after all the time we've been together she's learnt a lot about my planet and its customs, holidays, well...history, in general. Really dude? You'd think we'd be together all these years and not know shit about one another's worlds?"
Raedis laughed as he swugn them skillfully around a cargo truck.
"No, no...of not. You're a time traveler, for cryin' out loud. You would never allow for cultural ignorance. Especially in the woman you love." said Raedis to relax his friend. It was obvious the observance of this holiday irked the man. After a brief silence between them while they both enjoyed a song over the radio he ventured a question.
"So, uh...what'cha gonna get her?" He then spent the next few traffic stops offering gift ideas ranging from the absurd to actually quite compelling. "Lingerie!" was his first suggestion.
"Absolutely not. I wouldn't even know where to start. Besides, Lisa's more practical with her undergarments." said Traveler, without even another thought.
"One of those amazingly faceted crystals from the last world we raced on. Remember those?" he asked his friend. What Raedis was referring to were crystals that were effected by light and sound. Depending on the conditions, the things could be quite mesmerizing. The amazing beaches of that world were covered with sand composed of these amazing stones. The sand retained the same properties as the crystals hence the beaches of this world were a natural wonder and a terrific place for a race.
Raedis thought about his friend and the relationship Traveler had with Lisa. Their feelings were strictly reserved for one another despite both of them being quite popular racing drivers with legions of fans and no lack of opportunities to meet and hang out with any number of celebrities, fashionistas and hot, adoring beings from numerous systems. None of that mattered to Traveler, though. Nor Lisa. They placed themselves far from the probing press and public eye and had done so for so long that their relationship hardly garnered any attention beyond their professional rivalry and this just kept things interesting.
Raedis was happy for the two of them and was eager to help Traveler find Lisa the perfect present.
"Have you thought about brining her something from another time? Past...future? Something like that?" Raedis asked. Traveler lowered his window and bit on the filter tip of a cigarette he had extracted from his metal case.
"I've done that for the past three years, mate. I brought her that Egyptian cartouche the first year, then that cool clock I got that master horologist from the 55th century to build her. That was to symbolize the timelessness of our love."
Both men paused to remember the clock. It was about half a meter tall and although ornate in its working, was simplistic in design. Traveler liked that because it reminded him of the woman herself. Uncomplicated outside but an ornate assemblage of working parts within.
This is when what to do struck him.
"Rae! I got it! Head us back home. I know what I'm going to." Traveler was so immediately excited he knocked his sunglasses askew ashing his smoke. A smile spread across Readis' silver face.
"What'cha thinkin' pal? Got ya all excited, whatever it is." he chuckled. "Ooh...and give me one of those smokes." he added. Once Traveler composed himself, he handed a cigarette to his friend and began to explain.
"I'm gonna make her some music! I've never done this. Can you believe that!? Three years, almost four, we've been together and I've never made her a single song." he shook his head, self-admonishing. "Unreal..." he trailed off then got over himself and with a wave of enthusiasm said: "Take us home, Rae! I've got some time to spend in my studio! I'm going to make her a whole album's worth of devotion!"
Traveler clapped his hands together as if sealing his decision. He then flicked his cigarette out of the window and fished a dubious looking joint wrapped in translucent green paper from his coar's inner pocket. He slid the window all the way up and sparked the joint with an ancient Bic lighter. It was blue and he had snapped a rubber band around it. Within a few drags, the inside of Rae's little car was filled with pungent weed smoke. Both men inside were giggling like little boys not much longer after that as Traveler's powerful pot got them mad baked. "Good idea, man." said Raedis before switching some music on in the car. As they made their way home Traveler was already assembling beats in his brain.
He couldn't wait to see his Lady. He missed her scent, the sound of her laughter and the way she looked at him with her piercing, icy blue eyes. He saw her in his mind and it caused a jolt of electric arousal to course down his spine, igniting a fire of desire in his loins like a lightning strike in a dry wood.
Raedis caught a sideways glance at his best friend while clearing an intersection. He chuckled silently at the man's expression. It was one of joy, happiness and excitement. No one but Lisa ever elicited such an expression form the time traveler.
Noh Talent: A Raedis Short...
Rædis spoke a lot of languages. Thousands without even counting dialects and slangs. But being a machine, he could suss them all out, organize them, study them in his mind and find connections and such that made learning and mastering new tongues even easier.
Sometimes to hear a new language and to gain specific insight he would travel to visit a certain linguist who was a sort of language savant. She certainly knew many more languages than her machine friend but would never say how many. And, even though she was an organic being, she could somehow use not only her actual vocal organs and all one needs to produce sounds to levels of extreme and precise degrees, but would also incorporate her limbs, a small musical keypad she carried and often various objects in the room for those that she couldn't.
However, she did not posses the almost instantaneous and thorough ability to mentally organize and convey her vast knowledge into the seamless expression of thought into sound that constituted somewhat intelligible speech. This was not a problem when she was speaking one language or even slipping back and forth between several when say, in translating. She was a savant, after all, with unparalleled ability.
The difficulties arose when she would speak in her own tongue. Not her native language but rather a wholly unique form of communication resulting from the fact that she knew so very many. When extremely comfortable and relaxed, alone, speaking to her cat, under stress or intoxicated, she would lapse into an indecipherable amalgamation of sounds and getstures that formed an unfathomably complex language that only she alone knew and could speak.
Her cat understood her, of course, but lacked the means to convey this other than purring away affectionately when sitting in her lap.
Her true name would take even Rædis a fortnight to pronounce properly so he shortened it a bit and simply called this astounding lady 'Noh'. Which in Japanese meant 'talent' or 'skill'.
Traveling in Traffic...
Traveler was hopelessly mired in traffic and it was pissing him off because he was supposed to be dining with the love of his life, Lisa Hole.
He was in 'City Sector 7' of Raedis' big-ass world ship. Since they had begun taking in whole racing teams and their families while following certain classes on various worlds, the sector had changed from a nice place to hang out into an overcrowded, sprawling mess of a burgh. Often Traveler would go for a drive through it and perhaps even have lunch in one of its many idyllic municipal parks. However, taking aboard large groups of people had overcrowded the city space. He definitely needed to bring this up with Raedis. His thoughts returned to the present as the high pitched hum of a punk little kid on an electric scooter whizzed passed his open window as he smoked a cigarette. It was just a normal smoke that he lit with the tiny, jet-like flame of a lighter fueled by butane. The kid waved to Traveler as he passed having recognized the distinctive car the man was trying to drive at anything faster than the pedestrian pace he was plodding along at presently.
Traveler was in his 1972 red DeTomoso Pantera and he'd be loving it if he were able to drive it faster than a kid on a scooter. He looked down his arm to his fingers which were holding the cigarette upright between them. He took a long drag and exhaled it through his nostrils impatiently then looked at it again after flicking ashes from the tip. They blew right back at him, however and landed in his lap.
"Fuck." he said aloud to the empty car. Of course he was wearing thin, black trousers that now bore a pinhole burn in their upper right thigh in the middle of a grey smear of ash.
City Sector 7 was becoming a crowded, very unmachine-like sprawl that he was definitely now going to bring up with his best friend.
Whenever he got out this traffic. A three lane river of slow moving metal crept along. Traveler looked at the cigarette burning between the tips of his fingers. The sunlight simulating lights that shone from unfathomable heights were currently throwing down a depressing flat light that cast no shadows. Traveler sighed and finished his smoke. As he put it out though, something clicked in his complex brain. He pushed the thought aside for now. The group of cars he was stuck among began to move forward.
A wave of red brake lights receded, replaced by a surge of motion. Traveler gunned the Pantera's big motor and scared two little kids in a nearby car. They were oggling his Pantera when he urged the fearsome noise from the machine. He then took maximum advantage of the opportunity to move once it presented itself and with a little skill, found a space within two groups of cars to cruise in.
He finally arrived at his rendezvous with Lisa. She was a welcome sight to his eyes which were literally sore from the drive.
She saw it on his face as soon as he climbed out of a gorgeous red machine. There was such a contrast between the jovial red of the cool car and the misery on her man's face she couldn't help but snap a photo of him as he looked at her. She raised her phone and quickly snapped a shot before he could move. She smiled when she saw that it was perfect.
Her smile was so wonderful to him that his foul mood evaporated like breath on a window.
"Why this face, baby?" she asked and turned the phone so he could see the picture she had taken. He ignored her phone and took her wrist. In an elegant sweep of a maneuver he was behind her, kissing his way from her wrist to her elbow. He bypassed the jagged scar of a racing injury knowing she did not like it to be touched.
"I was annoyed by the traffic around here. It's gotten out of hand." he finally told her. He could feel a certain kind of heat reserved for him now emanating from her body with his dance like move next to her.
"Perhaps the city needs to be expanded? Anyway, who wants to talk about the traffic? Let's go eat." she suggested. There was a delightfully mischievous look in her icy blue eyes that told him not to listen to her would be folly, so he did.
She insisted on driving and he did not refuse. She was currently wheeling around in a quick, agile little sports coupe and he also very much wanted to see how she handled the current city traffic.
They got into her slick, red coupe and she switched it on. It hummed to life with a powerful throb. Its dashboard lit up with holographic displays that Traveler watched her quick eyes look over. She appeared satisfied at what she saw. Other drivers' process when starting up a vehicle alway intrigued the man. Doubly so when he was in love with said driver.
She caught him checking her out with a sideways glance, leaned over and found his lips with great precision. She kissed him for a long time and when she finally disengaged said: "Everything is operational. Ready to see how driving in traffic is done?"
"At your leisure." was his slightly winded response. She grinned almost savagely as she floored it from her parking spot to seek out some traffic. She didn't have to drive far. Within ten minutes after leaving her place they were merging into a ton of traffic, slowly.
"Right then. Here, as you can see, is the problem. I know you've noticed it before." Traveler said.
"Of course I have. But you, of all people, have the ability to change this for the betterment of City Sector 7." she said back. In her mind she was lacing a route through the traffic. When it was set she adjusted her hands on the wheel and started her run. Traveler watched with amazement as she made leaps of intuition in spots that only seconds before she took it over contained another vehicle. The ire of many other drivers was sounded in their horns as she wove her way through the traffic. Their irritated notes seemed to fuel her skill and daring. She pulled moves Traveler would reserve for a race and his strict adherence to local traffic laws of the planets and times he's visited kept him from such bombastic displays of vehicular motion.
Lisa, however, didn't seem to give a toss about the other motorists muddled around them or the regulations that were intended to keep them from moving like they now were. Traveler tightened his safety harness as Lisa dove onto the shoulder, around a long cargo truck.
"Hey! Going off the road doesn't count." Traveler protested and yet could not stop grinning. Her style and skill were dazzling. Her bravery, was enough to make Traveler obtain an even tighter grip on his safety restraints. He also spaced then placed his feet firmly on the fairly flexible flooring of the speedy little coupé.
"It's the fastest way around that dumb, slow truck! C'mon, baby!
This isn't a race..." she said as the grin returned to her face after pulling another daring passing maneuver that caused Traveler to clench a bit in his seat. "We could get another car for our time together and go to the racing sector of the ship." she said and, having to stop behind another car, looked at him long enough to arc a thin black eyebrow provocatively over a dazzling blue eye. He loved that look and she usually got her request whenever she employed it on him. They both knew this so she didn't abuse the wiley power.
"Let's talk about it while we eat." was his reply.
"Sure!" she said. She was happy their destination was close and got them to it much quicker than Traveler thought she could given the traffic. Lisa stopped them in a vacant spot before a small café.
"Nice work through the traffic." Traveler said looking behind him at the crowd of cars stopped in the street they had just turned off of. He snapped back around to watch her egress the vehicle. This was a motion that he never tired of watching for, to him, watching Lisa Hole exit a vehicle was one of the most balletic actions he'd ever seen a clothed woman complete.
In one fluid motion the woman would guide her knees under the steering linkage and pivot. She set her stylish blue shoes on the tarmac one at a time as if to first make sure the ground and, depending on the situation, her legs were solid under her for often times, they were not. Finally, she would emerge, usually with a stretch because she was a tall woman and sports cars were crampt vehicles, at best.
Lisa knew this action of egress garnered his attention so she deliberately made a more elaborate and somewhat seductive show of it when they were alone together. Traveler never suspected that she knew he watched her do all this and she grinned when, out of the corner of her eye, she saw him totally checking her out.
Lunch was served to them at the little café in a cardboard box the interior of which was stained with a bright orange grease. The contents of the box were taco-like treats accented with colorful vegetables which the pair devoured while chatting about where to go next before getting back in the car.
Overhead the lights demarcating day from night began to take on an early evening hue. Traveler was back at the wheel and the traffic was noticeably lighter. They agreed to stay at one of Traveler's favorite places. He knew how to get there from where they were. Now it was Lisa who was observing her man's wheel work. Sure they had competed against one another so she knew how he raced but their love affair contained surprisingly little time together in cars. She noted how cautious and courteous he tended to be. He was nothing like he was on the racetrack.
She also noted the amount of courtesy he was granted by other motorists and how he seemed to ease the tension of drivers around him as he progressed. This was something she would have expected more from from Raedis and she could feel the influence of Traveler's best friend in the man's amicable actions.
As Lisa Hole studied him, she was also totally going to use everything she learnt about his driving against him the next time they had to race against each other.
Red brake lights halted their progress and flooded the small car with light. It threw the two lover's features into sharp contrast as they looked at one another.
"You...are so rad." he said to her with enough time for a quick kiss before he had to roll them forward a few feet. He totally knew she had been devising racing strategies against him every time she let him drive. So, since she was gaining knowledge about him he made sure to drive contrary to how he really would were they in competition. He too was studying her just as much when she was at the wheel.
And so it went for the rest of their time together. For five days they spent driving one another from place to place each of them gearing up psychologically for the next race. When their time came to an end and Lisa had left, Traveler made sure he had a detailed talk with Raedis about his observations on the status and size of City Sector 7.
The Ship Thief
(This scene appears after a little downward scrolling in a slightly different version. Still, though...enjoy anyway.)
Madrian looked exactly as Rædis and Traveler imagined a man with such a moniker would. Tall, whip thin, quick moving but never in a rush. His jet black hair was wet-look crazy, slicked back along the sides and hung in points well below the collar of the glossy brown leather jacket he habitually wore. The top of his do was shaped into a magnificent crest and from any angle was visible the finely spaced lines of lines of a comb one never actually saw him use.
He viewed his world with hazel eyes shaded by amber tinted shooting glasses, the frames of which, were gold and perfectly perched, immobile on the bridge of his prominent nose. His thin face was perpetually clean shaven save for a wide set of mutton chops that were edged with laser precision.
He was wearing a pair of tight, green corduroys that flared out over black, pointy toed boots, a white silk shirt with a wide collar done up half way with glossy green snaps ringed with silver. His wide leather belt had silver embossed holes down its length and a large buckle of brushed chrome. Around his neck hung two chains of rhodium and platinum. From one of them dangled an ornate medallion that flashed under the lights of the club they were in.
"That's the guy we're looking for." Rædis said pointing him out from where they sat at a floating table littered with odd shaped glasses of half drained exotic drinks and small ashtrays full of colorful cigarette butts.
"I'll bet you anything that gold 1969 Mercury Cyclone 428 Cobra Jet in the car park is his." the machine said over the terrible music thumping through the creepy, futuristic discotheque.
Traveler hated places like this. As a master of sonic design he couldn't stand how they sounded, even if the music was good, which it almost never was. As one of the most fashionable beings, literally of all time, he could usually only scoff at the pathetic attempts at any semblance of style the denizens of these crowded, badly lit, social
hell holes attempted to pull off. This man was different, however in that his choice of couture was in such deliberate opposition to what was considered in style where they were that he was, with the exception of Traveler himself, the most stylish person in the large room.
"How can you be sure?" Traveler shouted back as he tried to get a better look at the dude through the haze of various kinds of smoke, ill lighting and laser effects.
"Seriously?" Rædis said back. He could somehow modulate his voice to make it much easier to hear over the din without having to shout. It sounded to Traveler like he was right next to him speaking normally in a quieter and smaller room. The robot's friend always found it an impressive and useful trick. "Trust me, I'm sure it's his. None of these other posers would know to ever get their hands on something that unique let alone be actually able to do it. I mean, look at him!"
"I'm trying!" Traveler hollered. "How would he have gotten something so rare and unusual?"
"That's what we're here to find out." Rædis answered more testily than he normally would. The awful nightclub was beginning to get to him too. "But I'm sure that's the guy." he said confidently.
"Well shit man, works for me. Let's introduce ourselves!" Traveler yelled to which Rædis finally replied:
"You don't have to shout, Trav. I can hear you fine, you know."
Traveler realized this instantly, of course, and understood he was only yelling because that's what one always ends up doing in such obnoxious venues.
"I hate these fucking places." he grumbled.
"Let's just wait for him by his car." Rædis suggested. They left the club for the car park to await the man called Madrian and marvel at his amazing automobile.
Mechanic of Time
(An early short scene about a few details of Traveler's time machine...)
Traveler's time machine kind of sucked in the fact that it could move in time but not in space. He had always meant to take it some place in time advanced enough to incorporate it into some kind of cool vehicle but there was problems with this.
One was the practical problem of building a machine around another machine that was really only there some of the time. Another was finding someone who could actually do it. For although Traveler was very, very clever and could comprehend things beyond the scope of normal beings, he refrained from fiddling around with his time machine because he didn't want to break it and strand himself in whatever when he was in at the moment.
He had no idea when or where the incredible thing had come from. He had found it in the hold of a spaceship that was more or less given to him by a stranger he'd met after discovering his cloaked ship in a field near a city he was living in at the beginnings of his wanderings through space and time.
The time machine looked like it had not been used in years and Traveler initial mistook it for an unused set of small rooms before realizing what it was. On the outside, it was a featureless, uninteresting, rectangular box made of dull, tarnished metal the color and texture of cast iron. Rust streaked it's pitted surface. It was about the size of a large shipping container and had two doors at either end of it.
Inside it was divided into three small but comfortable rooms. One was the control and habitation section the other contained bathing, emergency medical and toilet facilities. The final was outfitted as a sleeping compartment. It was luxuriously appointed in fashions that could easily be altered, added to or designed to suit the needs and tastes of the operator.
Traveler had spent many hours trying to figure out its systems in order to safely utilize its amazing capabilities. He taught himself how to replace certain filters, fluids and circuits that periodically required it but as far as how it actually ran and what powered it had yet to be discovered. Fortunately the machine was able to communicate with great precision and clarity to its pilot even over long distances. It kept its traveler abreast of its condition and status in detail. Which is really what you want when embarking on voyages containing the unique difficulties and challenges posed by traveling in time.