You pull the trigger and are treated to the truly horrifying experience of witnessing your own violent death. Meanwhile, every fiber of your being feels like it’s being torn apart on a molecular level. Being peeled off of the space-time continuum, it turns out, is no picnic. You’re overcome by a flood of vivid memories from throughout your life—graduations, birthdays, first kisses, and predictably awkward first sexual experiences. You realize that they belong to you alone now, and the other people featured in them may wind up remembering them very differently.
In fact, for all you know, those people may no longer even exist.
You glance over at Professor V., who in turn is staring at the dead body on her laboratory floor. “For some reason, I assumed it would disappear into the timestream or something,” she says.
You step backward, realizing that the expanding pool of blood is about to reach your toes. “Yeah,” you say awkwardly. “It’s not disappearing.”
At least the sight of your lifeless, bleeding doppelganger is keeping your mind off of the existential dread that comes from not truly belonging anywhere in space-time. You hear a soft pop behind you, followed by a gentle, almost musical voice.
“Professor Velociraptor? I… oh, my. I’ve caught you at a bad time, haven’t I?” You turn to see a woman with the head of a dolphin dressed in some kind of skin-tight space suit. Just standing there.
“This must be your initial paradox incident,” she says, squinting at you, then at the dead duplicate on the floor. “That is traumatizing, isn’t it?” She gives you a compassionate look that’s oddly soulful despite her beady little dolphin eyes. “I’m so sorry.”
“Um, thanks?” You’re not quite sure how to accept condolences from a talking dolphin. “Do I know you?”
“Not yet, I think,” she says. “Professor Velociraptor, I need your help. I’ve come from the Cretaceous period, where we’re attempting to build a tachyon shield and prevent a worldwide extinction event. By all accounts, you’re the only person who can help.”
“Me?” Professor V. says, taken aback. “You must be mistaken. I’m not even sure what a tachyon shield is.”
“Hmm. Perhaps I’ve come too early. I apologize for the intrusion. Please continue with whatever you were doing as if I was never here.”
“Wait,” you say. “What we’re doing is trying to stop some crazy monkey guy from destroying the timeline. Sounds like maybe I should head for the Cretaceous period?”
“No, if you’ve only just peeled off, you have quite a bit to do before that,” she says. “Trust me.” Again with the soulful dolphin eyes. How does she even do that?
There’s another pop, and the woman disappears. “Okay, that was weird,” you say.
“Indeed,” Professor V. says, tapping her chin with one claw. “Nevertheless, we’ve got work to do.”
She leads you to a computer screen (which, with your limited comprehension of quantum physics, looks more like the old arcade game Tempest than anything else) and explains that it’s displaying spikes in temporal activity throughout time and space. Apparently at this stage, there’s no stopping the mad scientist from conducting his experiment—since he’s no longer bound by linear causality, you could prevent him from ever being born, and he’d still be out there in the timestream messing stuff up. Your only chance is to find out what he’s up to and straight-up thwart his ass.
Professor V. tells you that she’s found traces of your tachyon signature—which, theoretically, should match the scientist’s—amid three major Temporal Activity Clusters throughout history. These clusters indicate an abundance of time travel events, and she thinks that you should start by investigating one of them.
The first is more than two and a half centuries in the future, on the exact date in 2271 that no agent has ever traveled past. The second is in the early 1880s. And the third, just as the dolphin suggested, is in the late Cretaceous period. She seemed to be steering you away from that era, but can you really trust random sea animals that appear out of thin air?
“Remember,” Professor V. says, “no matter what happens out there, your mission is to protect the real timeline. Our timeline.” She puts one hand on your shoulder and looks you straight in the eyes.
“The timeline where people evolved from dinosaurs.”
If you head for the Cretaceous (talking dolphins aren’t the boss of you!), turn to page 48.
If you investigate the distant future, turn to page 63.
If you think the 1880s are your best bet, turn to page 8.