Year 17

Chapter 21
Time to leave

by E.Escher - 13th Feb 2017
Carmen propped herself up on one elbow and watched Colin as he slept.

He was lucky; she couldn't sleep, even after the frankly epic workout they'd both enjoyed. Her inhuman metabolism refused to slow down, her pulse racing at a rip-roaring eighteen beats a minute, instead of her usual resting pulse of nine. It was probably still just time-lag, and she wondered if there was any way to adjust her body-clock. After all, her metabolic functions were mostly regulated by the reprogrammed Sobek construct, and that was just a computer.

The thing was, it was also her brain, and the techno-organic hybrid mess of a revenant's brain wasn't particularly well understood. Before Revival, simple tasks like adjusting to local time could be done quickly and easily using a person's social implant. Getting to sleep was a lot easier, too.

She'd lost all that, along with all the everyday tools she had used to connect to the human society. Conversation without the emotional overtones of the social channel was flat and frustrating, and she found herself forced to rely on vocal inflection or facial expressions when she wanted to know what a person was thinking or feeling. Worse, she could no longer broadcast on the social channels, so when she spoke to her family they didn't receive the normal signals that would indicate the love and respect that came with a familial bond. She was a ghost to them, an echo, no longer real.

Small wonder, then, that they'd drifted apart. Like so many revenants, she'd lost touch with her friends, family and social contacts. She had purchased hand-held devices, all kinds of on-body tech designed to supplement a failed social connection, but they were clumsy, inelegant implementations, only ever intended as temporary tools, a stop-gap while the owner's social implant was repaired.

And so, deprived of human contact, a large percentage of revs attempted suicide, or formed their own enclaves, or became time travellers.

Colin had no memory of any of that, he literally didn't know what he was missing, and as a result he was the most well-adjusted former-human Carmen had ever met. Sure, he had his issues, like, for three hundred years he had believed he was under some kind of evil spell. It was kinda cute, in an ancient-history kinda way. It amused her that people used to think like that, and once the idea took hold it was hard to shake, even as the world around him discarded superstition in place of science and technology.

He was a stubborn son of a bitch. He had a strength of character that could hold onto an idea for centuries and never let go. Anybody else would have gone crazy long ago, flipped out, gone on a rampage. Carmen herself was sure she'd have become a monster eventually, just because she could, just to relieve the boredom.

She liked visiting the past, because the humans here didn't rely on technology to communicate. In that respect, she could fit in, and for a while she felt like she wasn't socially handicapped. The staff at the university knew her, and they had a lot of experience dealing with Revs, and sensitivity training that helped them to help her feel normal.

It was all an illusion. Revs could only be normal around their own kind.

Maybe her matchmaker app wasn't on the blink, after all. Just maybe she and Colin could have some kind of future together. Not an eternity of bliss, of course. She wasn't naive enough to entertain that idea, but enough to stave off the onset of ennui together, for a while, until they got bored of one another.

Man, that was a downside of immortality she'd never read of in novels. You didn't just get to watch your loved ones get old and die, you also had to face the fact that eventually you would inevitably get sick of the very sight of them.

Thoroughly bummed out, she gave Colin a poke in the ribs. His eyes flicked open as though he'd never been asleep, which would have surprised anybody else but Carmen had encountered a lot of Revs, and was used to the wide variety of oddities they manifested. Colin seemed to be blessed with all the positive side-effects; not only could be sleep like a baby, he woke up without any grogginess or disorientation, like a computer waking up from stand by.

Probably exactly like that, in fact.

'Is it morning?' he asked. 'Why's it still dark?'

'Blackout curtains, extra thick,' she explained. 'Plus it's about twenty to five am. The sun's not due to rise for another few hours.'

He fixed her with a stare. 'Neither am I. Go back to sleep.'

'I haven't been asleep.'

He blinked. 'What? At all?'


'Aren't you tired? I mean...'

'Yes, you tired me out quite nicely, thank you, but we each have our little quirks, and mine is a very fast recovery cycle. I went and ate the food, and that's me fully recharged and ready for action.'

His eyes went a little wide. 'What kind of action?'

She grabbed her pillow and swatted him with it. 'That's not what I meant. I meant I only need a few hours' sleep every few days, and I don't need to eat much to keep going. You can probably do the same, to a greater or lesser degree.'

'Not me, I sleep like a log, anytime I put my head down, bam, I'm ready for a snooze.'

'Depends where you put your head, I expect.'

He had the decency to blush. 'Um, listen, about last night.'

'Stop right there, not another word. Last night was great, and if it was okay for you I'm more than ready for more of the same.' She leaned over him, close. 'And you don't have to make excuses about rolling over and going to sleep afterward.'

'That's not fair, I like cuddling. I'd quite enjoy a cuddle right now, in fact, if that's something you're in the mood for.'

She smiled. 'It is, but there's no time. We have to go.'

'Now? Why?'

'I don't know, it's just a hunch, but we got lucky once. Think how much it would suck if we were enjoying a nice naked snuggle when Brian burst in here and started shooting.'

'That would be pretty inconvenient, yeah.'

'Yeah. And it just occurred to me, and now I look at the clock and it's four-forty-four. Did I mention four is an unlucky number?'

'Brian's not going to be up and about at this hour of the morning?'

'He's a professional assassin. He'll do whatever it takes to kill his target.'


'Both of us, I think. I've shaken his nice little world, and that's not an easy thing to forgive.'

'You've shaken my world, as well, and I'm not too upset about it.'

'Your world was a living nightmare to begin with. I'd like to hope I've managed to help out at least a little, but Brian thought he was master of his domain, some kind of apex predator, and now he knows there's something bigger and more powerful, beings beyond his control.'

'Somebody he can't just shoot, you mean.'

'Yeah. If you go through life looking at everybody and thinking "you don't matter, because I could kill you in a heartbeat", you're going to get a superiority complex.'

'And you're sure he can't just shoot us dead?'

'If you put bullets into a revenant you just get a revenant who weighs a few grams more, and is really angry.'

'What about the physical damage, though? What if he shoots us in the knees, or blows a hand off? What if he blinds us?'

Carmen groaned. 'Okay, okay, we're not invincible. Brian's probably had the same ideas, and I don't fancy testing any of those theories. That's why we're leaving, instead of going after him for a big showdown.'

'Yesterday we were looking for him,' pointed out Colin.

'Yesterday he was panicked and nervous. By now he's had time to sleep on it, or more likely pace around and scheme.'

'It sounds like we're a lot of trouble, when you put it like that.'

'Well, we're not completely helpless. You know you're a lot stronger than him, right?'

Colin looked unhappy. 'Only when I lose my temper.'


'Yeah, like if I get hurt I lose control and then I seem to be super-strong. I go on a rampage, like the Hulk.'

'Okay. I don't know what that is, but okay. I'm strong whenever I want, so we have that, at least. I guess you should take my gun, instead. You were in the army, right? You know what to do with a handgun?'


'Only you looked a little lost in the bank, like when a strange woman hands some guy a baby to hold, and they're all confused.'

Colin flushed. 'I know how to use a gun. I'm not comfortable robbing banks and threatening innocent civilians for no reason.'

She smiled. 'I had a feeling it was something like that, as soon as I saw you.'

Colin scowled. 'I still owe him for making me do that. I don't even care about his stupid reasons anymore, I just want him to pay, somehow.'

'I'm sure he'll come to a bad end one way or another. His sort generally do.'

'Unless they retire with their ill-gotten fortune to some fancy island somewhere.'

She chuckled. 'Brian said he hasn't had a real target in years. He'll be out of practice, and frustrated, and angry, and he'll make a mistake. You'll see.'

'I will? How?'

'When we get back I'll look him up in the archives and see how he dies.'

'Oh. That sounds easy.'

'Revenge is sweet, and also non-fat. It's petty, but when you've travelled back this far you know that everybody you meet is long, long dead.' She gave him a look. 'Well, barring exceptions.'

'You don't run into other travellers very often, then?'

'Not unless the job is a rescue, no. We try very hard to keep out of each other's way. You've seen how it turns out otherwise.'

He smirked at that. 'It seems to have turned out pretty well for me, so far.'

'Hm. Yes. I'm going to go shower. We can continue this conversation later.'

She slid out of the bed and made her way to the en-suite bathroom. She could feel his eyes on her the whole time.
The curious tale of Colin Campbell
Part One - How did it come to this?, Chapter 1, Earlier that day
Chapter 2, Earlier still
Chapter 3, Making a withdrawal
Chapter 4, August 18th, 2362
Chapter 5, Angel of Death
Chapter 6, Welcome to 2016.
Chapter 7, Denmark, July 2358
Chapter 8, After the crash
Chapter 9, Music of the Spheres
Chapter 10, Denmark, July 2358
Chapter 11, Harbinger FM
Chapter 12, Denmark, July 2358
Chapter 13, Excuses and lies
Part Two - So here we are, Chapter 14
Chapter 15, Quite a ride
Chapter 16, Talking the talk
Chapter 17, Leisurely pursuit
Chapter 18, Dinner Date with Destiny
Chapter 19, Chips with everything
Chapter 20, Harbinger
Chapter 21, Time to leave
Chapter 22, Manchester
Chapter 23, Colin's House
Chapter 24, On the road
Chapter 25, Chateau Harbinger
Chapter 26, Showdown
Epilogue, Debriefing
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