“Kink? What the hell?” I shouted. “What are you doing here?”
“What do you think, Frankie? I’m here to stop you from making a giant mistake!”
“Yes! If you remove your instability, you could destroy the whole future!”
“The whole future?” David chuckled. “Don’t be absurd. The future will forever persist because that is the nature of time. There will always be a past, a present, and a future until after the very universe itself is gone and perhaps even after that. Unless…that’s what you’re theorizing. Is it? Are you postulating the very end of the universe itself?”
“Maybe,” Kink replied, barely giving David any notice. “I don’t know, but my future will be gone. My future. Your future. Our future. It will be completely wiped out.”
“Replaced by a new one. Is that so bad?”
She glared at him. “For me it is.
“Oh, that’s too bad,” Doc replied as she rolled her eyes. Kink growled at her.
“Fine. You don’t care about me? Then what about her!” She thrust a finger at Tilly. “You care about her, don’t you? If my future is gone, then so is hers! No Quantum Man, no Mathilda Reina Del Tiempo!”
“What are you talking about?” Jamal demanded. “My daughter is here. You can’t erase her.”
“When you eliminate her mother from the timeline, you can.”
“Are you saying my being quantumly unstable brings about Freyja? Are you saying that I am personally responsible for the tyrant who oppresses the galaxy for more than three thousand years?” I demanded. If that was true, then that was just one more reason that I should remove my quantum instability. If she was lying, then I was going to be pissed.
“I am saying that there is a timeline and large changes like this cannot be so haphazardly made. There are dire consequences.”
“Says the time pirate,” Doc muttered not so quietly.
Kink smiled at her. “Oh, hi, Jessica. I didn’t see you there.”
“Frank, if she’s right, if there’s even a chance,” Jamal said. “Then you can’t do it. You can’t risk my baby girl’s life like that.”
“I don’t see how the one thing would connect to another,” I said. “Besides, Freyja upgraded Tilly. She isn’t affected by any changes made by the horn.”
“Those are realital changes,” Tilly said. “These would be temporal.”
“Don’t you see, Frank,” Kink said. “You change reality in the past, you change the future as well.”
“No,” I told her. “That can’t be true. What about all the changes Zlodeyskiy made? He changed reality much more than I’m planning on doing. Why didn’t anyone stop him?”
“Because you undid those. That was how the timeline shaped out. But these…? No one reverses them. They happen. They stick. And if you change who you are you will change everything.”
“How can you know that?” I asked. “If I change the timestream, I change everything within the timestream. That includes knowledge of the earlier part of the timeline. No on in the future would be aware of changes made to the past.”
“I’m a timetraveler, Frankie, I don’t live within the timestream. I’ve seen the effect you’ve already had on it. And I’ve seen the effect you’ll have on it when you make your next decision. That’s why I’m here to stop you. I have to keep you from making that decision. I need you to return the timeline to the way it was.”
“Why?” I asked. “What was so bad?”
“I can’t tell you that. You know that. But think of all the good you’ve done in the future wiped out. I’m telling you it’s bad, Frank.”
“You’re going to have to do better than that, Kink. Because I don’t see how anything I’ve done in the future needed me to be quantumly unstable. I can still help people without it.”
“It’s not what you can’t do,” she said. “It’s what you do do. It’s the way things change, the decisions you make. Your circumstances will be different, your options will be different, this will change your actions. I know you are all primitives from the dark ages, but this isn’t exactly transdimensional rocket science.”
“We all understand causation,” David said, “but that doesn’t explain why curing Frank’s condition would cause such ripples through time. We’ve traveled through time. We know that the timestream is elastic. Stepping on a butterfly will have practically no effect on history. Stepping on a dozen, will for all intents and purposes do nothing, because time doesn’t work like that.”
Kink shook her head, pityingly. “You have no idea. It’s all about stepping on the right butterfly and, poor what’s-your-name, you are not the right butterfly.”
“But Frank is?” Doc asked.
Kink rolled her six eyes. “Oh, Jessica. I know this is tough, but try to keep up. I’m talking metaphorically. No one’s going to smash any bugs. I’m just here to prevent a horrible mistake that will ruin billions of civilizations and cost upwards of quintillion lives.”
“Maybe you should listen to her,” Tilly said.
“I can’t believe you,” Doc replied. “You’re agreeing with that maniac?”
“I’m saying, why risk it? Why mess up reality for such a selfish reason?”
“Selfish?” I repeated.
“All of this has been selfish, Frank. All of it has been for you. Every single decision has been about alleviating your guilt.”
“But they’re what you would want, aren’t they? David back alive. Your father back in his body.”
“I told you not to do it, Frank. That’s what I wanted you to do. Did you ask anyone before you acted? No. You just acted. You just did what you needed to have done.”
“Is that what everyone thinks?” I looked at everyone else. I thought I was helping everyone, giving them what they wanted. Was I really being selfish after all? “Is that how you all feel?”
Kink started to open her mouth, but we were never going to find out what she had to say because that was when the Time Cops appeared.
to be continued…