You’ve completed dozens of missions for the TTIA, but the return trip has never felt like this. Something is horribly wrong—the gentle, tingly sensation you’re accustomed to has been replaced by a gut-wrenching vertigo. It finally subsides, and you open your eyes. Rather than the serene face of Professor Venkataraman, you’re greeted by a terrifying human-sized lizard creature with a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth.
It’s wearing a lab coat.
You scream. (You’re not proud of that, but hey, it felt right at the time.) But as you look into the creature’s ridged, yellow eyes, memories start flooding back. Venkataraman? Where did that come from? Of course this is your boss, Professor Velociraptor. You’ve worked with her just about every day for the past six months.
Your scream peters out into a sort of questioning grunt. Professor V. grabs you by the shoulders. “Is it a lottery winner? It’s okay! I can help with the paperwork!”
You attempt to describe the horrific scene you’ve just witnessed—shimmering portals, face-murder, interior design trends of the early 1980s—but get stuck describing the scientist himself. “I want to say he had a… beard?” That can’t be right. Dinofolk don’t have monkey hair growing out of their faces. “Like, he was maybe some sort of ape-creature?” You feel like that information should have seemed more important at the time. As you try to remember him, though, the scientist’s features become even less clear in your mind.
“Oh, no,” Professor Velociraptor says. “I was afraid of something like this. Come with me—quickly!”
She leads you to the back of the lab and punches some numbers into a keypad on the wall, which splits open to reveal a secret chamber. “Everything I’ve taught you about time travel is true,” she says. “At least, as far as Bakulan theory is concerned. But I’ve been studying a second, non-Bakulan time travel method which dispenses with those rules. Physical transfer, limitless date access, causality paradoxes—it’s all possible. And it’s unbelievably dangerous.”
You stare at her blankly for a moment. “Then why do we even bother with the Bakula stuff?”
“Oh,” she says, fiddling with a glowing piece of equipment on a stainless steel workbench. The tech on this side of the secret door, incidentally, looks way cooler than the junk in the other room. “For the lottery winners. We get a cut every time someone has to return their winnings due to time travel fraud. It makes up 95 percent of our funding.”
She finishes tinkering and holds the device in front of her. It’s a chunky wristband, a little too big to fit comfortably on your… tiny little arms? You look down, not sure why for a moment you were expecting them to be bigger. You’re a tyrannoid, which means small arms, a big head, and a powerful tail that makes it incredibly hard to find decent-fitting clothes. Due to convergent evolution, the various species of dinofolk have shrunk or grown to approximately equal size (and of course, they all walk upright, even the Brachiosaurs), but other than that, they’ve retained the same basic characteristics since prehistoric times. That’s just science.
“The subject has clearly stumbled upon non-Bakulan time travel,” Professor V. says, “and if your memories are getting hazy, it may mean he’s already made changes to the timestream. The trouble is, there’s no way to know what he changed because our memories would have changed right along with it.”
“Then how can we stop him if we don’t even know what to stop?”
“We don’t stop him,” she says. “You do. And you do it by following his lead: you must create a paradox so drastic that it peels you off the space-time continuum entirely. Then no matter what happens to the timestream, you’ll retain your own personal history and memories.”
You’re having a hard time processing all of this. “Me? I make eleven bucks an hour. Wouldn’t someone else be more qualified?”
“I can’t do it myself,” she says. “I’m one of the inventors of this device, which means tachyon particles affect me unpredictably. It wouldn’t be safe.” She attaches the glowing bracelet to your wrist. Then she places a cold, heavy pistol into your palm.
“I’m sending you one minute back in time to kill the version of yourself you find there. I know it sounds extreme, but trust me. It’s the only way to stop this madman.”
Sure! What’s a little murder between time-shifted alternate selves? If you tell Professor Velociraptor you’re in, turn to page 12.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. If you refuse to murder anyone, least of all yourself, turn to page 14.