One

Chapter 1

She arrived in a flash of light. Her first time had been something of a shock and had left her a little shaken. However she was far more used to it now and it no longer fazed her in any way.

As part of her customary things to do, she exposed her left forearm and pressed a series of panels that would effectively render her invisible to anyone who was watching. It wasn't perfect, but unless someone was very attentive, they wouldn't notice.

Next she activated her scanner. Her lead on this location would hopefully work out like all the others. After pressing a few more panels she had a lead on what direction to go. "At least she's within range," Kim muttered to herself. Not every location took her to where she needed to go. She chalked it up to her target moving around since her placement.

Hearing the sudden sound of what to her seemed like a gunshot had her spinning in that direction. Then her interest was piqued when that sound was followed by a countless number of them. Even more interesting was what almost sounded like an explosion followed shortly by another and then another. "What the hell?" It almost sounded like a war, but who used explosives anymore? It had her running toward the noise while looking up as well. Since she was in a wooded area it only took a quick glance to see what she needed. Pulling a device off of her belt, she fired a line up into the tree and heard it hit soundly. In just seconds she was standing on a large branch high up in the tree.

A number of shots later and she was looking down on a large open area. Off to one side there were a substantial group of odd metal and wood things that she didn't recognize and each one was giving off a thunderous sound followed by smoke. She could also see lots and lots of men. They were gathered into groups and each group was in lines. "What are they doing?" It didn't make any sense to her. Then each group started moving forward by walking. It was what was out if front of a few of the groups that had her attention at the moment. She didn't recognize it. Whatever it was there was a man sitting on it and it didn't seem to mind.

Kim wanted answers. "Okay Jill, scan the area and identify."

"Beginning scan…. The men are wearing gray kepi caps, jackets, and trousers. Some, though, have a brown dye embedded into the fabric. Each is carrying a single weapon consisting of a rifle that is fired using primitive black powder. It is fired when a piece of flint strikes against steel that produces sparks that ignite the priming."

"You're not serious!?" Kim had never heard of such a thing. She asked another question. "And those big things making noise and smoke?"

"The barrels are made of bronze and are smooth inside and outside. Each fires a 12 pound ball. The barrel is 53 inches long with a bore size of 4.62 inches. The unit weighs a total of 788 pounds. They fire a ball that weighs 8.9 pounds. Each is a solid iron ball attached with metal bands to a wooden sabot."

"Primitive in the extreme." Still Kim was intrigued and continued to observe everything.

She watched as men on the far side fired their weapons that produced the same loud sound followed by a puff of smoke. They continued this for a while and it was killing or injuring a fair number of men who simply continued to walk toward them.

"Are they stupid?" Kim didn't understand. It looked like suicide to her.

Then each side started firing their rifles. "Now what are they doing?" Every man would stop, stuff a rod down the barrel followed by doing it again. "Twice? Is that the black powder?" She watched him use the same rod followed by putting something into the barrel then he put the rod into the barrel again and looked to be forcing it down into the barrel a couple of times. She watched as he fiddled with a section of the rifle. He seemed to intentionally pull on something followed by lifting it up to his shoulder and look down the barrel. This was followed by it exploding with a small puff of smoke. Then he started to repeat the process.

"Seriously?!" Just how stupid were these people? "Jill?" Kim had learned that Jill had a knack for knowing just what she was asking.

"Two shots per minute appears to be the norm. A 100 meter shot would appear to have a chance at placing each shot within a 2-inch area. However the farther out the chance of striking the target diminishes greatly. At the distance most of them are firing, it would take luck to strike anyone."

"These people are idiots." Kim was sure of that. But she stayed up in her tree and observed for hours.

"Jill?" Kim wanted results of what she had just watched.

"12,500 men in nine different groups advanced across an open field approximately 3/4 of a mile. It would appear that 52% of the men taking part are either dead or wounded. A small percentage actually managed to make it to the stone wall that the other side is behind."

"It was a massacre. What is wrong with these people?" Kim didn't understand them. She was well acquainted with how to fight and simply walking across an open field waiting to be killed was just plain stupid.

Jill knew her place and kept her opinions to herself, though she did agree. It was just that these people didn't appear to know not to fight in this manner. It was fighting by attrition. Kill more of them than they do of you.

"Well, as enlightening as this is I need to find her," Kim told herself. She pulled out her device and was soon jumping from tree to tree in the direction that her wrist advised her to go.

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The sun had dropped well below the horizon by the time she was close to her target. "Inside a town, naturally. Why couldn't you be married and living isolated on some farm somewhere?" Kim muttered and pressed a short series of panels on her wrist. It allowed her to zoom in on the location indicated as well as change from normal vision to infrared.

"Are they having a party?" Kim groaned a little deeper. This one was turning out to take up some of her time. She knew this was going to take time, but did it have to take this long?

She rested her back up against her tree and looked out onto the area. It was a small town and all the buildings were single story, which was helpful. It's just that all of the buildings were close together except for a few.

It was her rumbling stomach that got her looking at all of the buildings on the edge. Two of them appeared to be dark so she set her device and lowered herself down to the ground. From her tree she walked toward one of them while scanning with her eyes for any hot spots.

A sudden hot spot in her target building had her freezing in place. She couldn't risk asking Jill so she pushed her jacket back to expose her forearm and pressed a set of panels.

Kim felt her heart beating again as the scan displayed on her arm. "A rat." She drew in a deep breath and couldn't believe that a simple rodent had startled her. After all she had been through to get to here, a stupid rat had given her a small shot of adrenaline.

There was no lock so she entered easily. It was a plain place, very spartan, and it was definitely lived in, though there was no one inside except her rat.

There was some salted meat, potatoes, brown sugar, a little bread and something else that looked like beans. "What are these? ...Jill?" Kim didn't recognize them.

Jill explained the basics. "You grind the beans into a powder, heat water using a kettle or a pot. Place a cloth filter bag into an empty cup. Slowly pour the hot water into the cup being careful not to overfill your cup. Allow the hot water to steep for about 4 minutes."

"Coffee, you're talking about coffee. Do you have any idea how long it's been since I had real coffee?" Kim couldn't believe the number of places that hadn't found or discovered coffee. She eagerly gathered up the meat, potatoes, sugar, and took every bean she could find. She had her own utensils so had no need of cups or pots to heat water.

"Thank you," Kim said to the empty space, pulling out a weapon and shooting the rat. "You're welcome."

A quick look around and Kim was running for the trees until she thought she was deep enough for no one to see her small fire. She took precautions as she cooked the meat and heated up the potatoes while boiling her water.

"Uhmm...real coffee." Kim felt the hot liquid burn its way down her throat and allowed the after taste to revel in her mouth. "Show me someone who doesn't like coffee and I'll happily shoot them for you." She smiled. "Now if this place just had some real cream, real sugar, and maybe a little something extra." She quashed the idea as fast as she thought it up. She'd had to learn to live without a lot of things and while she hated stealing, she just didn't have the capability to carry that many supplies so she had been forced to look locally everywhere she went.

She did have a home of sorts, it was just that she didn't want to over use it. She didn't know if there was anyone out there trying to stop her, however she figured there was. It was safer to assume that there was.

A pulse on her arm got her attention, so she uncovered her left forearm and pressed a series of panels. "Yes, Jill."

"I monitored that the building you were just in. It contained a great deal of her DNA. It would be safe to assume that is where she lives."

"Now you tell me." Kim tilted her head back and rolled her eyes. "You couldn't have told me while I was there?" Kim had learned to love Jill like she was her own sister. Not that she had one, but if she had.

Jill reminded her of her standing order. "You instructed me not to give your position away by not communicating with you needlessly."

Kim let her head fall to her chest. "I have a big mouth." She really needed to be more careful about the orders she gave Jill. She modified her standing order. "Fine, I rescind that order. Just try to be careful when and where you contact me."

"Acknowledged."

Kim didn't need the sleep and since she knew where her quarry lived, she pressed a series of panels on her arm after putting out her little fire and storing her possessions.

In a brilliant flash of light she disappeared from one location and arrived at a new one. Kim looked around and found it just as she left it. Now all she had to do was wait. So she pressed a series of panels and suddenly the space was softly lit with the miniature 3D figure of a woman. "How many are left?" Kim asked her.

"Including this one, you have another five to track down. That will complete the dozen that are known."

Kim already knew about the dozen and she already knew just how many she had found so she already knew how many remained. It simply helped to pass the time to talk with Jill. "I won't ask you again if what I'm doing is right. You'll just tell me what you told me last time," Kim told her. The miniature woman looked unfazed.

Jill confirmed what she was thinking. "You are correct."

"Thanks," Kim deadpanned, sitting there waiting. But staying still and quiet just wasn't in her nature. "Any thoughts on where to go next?"

"Any choice will be a good choice. However if I was given a choice, I would select Alfava Matrixes. It is the seventh planet in the Tundra System in the Garn Belt, and was once the one to the extinct Aplans. It was terraformed in the 49th century and colonized by humans sometime before the 51st century."

"Okay, I'll bite, why there?" Kim just knew this was going to be good.

"It's July 3, 1863 on the planet called Earth in the Milky Way Galaxy. A primitive time and place. Going to Alfava Matrixes will be several centuries in the future from now. It will be a good change. You'll actually be closer to your own time if not actually in the same galaxy." Jill thought it was perfect.

"So your idea is to go from the 18th century to the 51st." Kim didn't believe her. "Have you fractured a few of your connections?" She was convinced that Jill had lost it.

Jill was willing to defend her choice. "You have a better location in mind?"

Kim thought about it and opened her mouth to counter her choice. "I can actually go home for a short visit after that." She considered it and began to like it. "Fine, the 51st century it is after this. Program it in and it can be my next jump." Kim was in.

Jill silently programmed herself and started downloading everything she had on the planet and that century for later. "OH CRAP! KIM IS SO GOING TO KILL ME!" Jill hadn't looked it up and done any research on the planet. "Yeah, definitely going to kill me." Regardless, Jill completed the programming. It happened that this planet wasn't anything like what it sounded like. "I'm so dead, so very dead."

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Kim was on her third cat nap when Jill alerted her to movement at the target location. It had her snapping her head around and focusing on the building. The sun was just coming up. "Where have you been all night?" Kim questioned, knowing she was likely never going to find out and that was okay with her. Where she had been wasn't a priority. The woman was the priority.

By the time she had entered the building Kim had been forced to switch from infrared to normal vision. "Best get this over with so I can move on." She was starting to look forward to visiting her home. To just relax and not have to do this day after day.

Using her device she quickly lowered herself to the ground and scanned the surrounding area. Finding very little movement, she checked her systems to make sure they were working properly and started walking to the target building.

A small group of men on horseback were all dressed in soft blue uniforms and each was carrying one of those ancient weapons. While the weapon itself didn't concern her that much – after all its accuracy was poor – it was possible that fortune could work for her or against her. Just one of them might get off a lucky shot and ruin everything or at least something.

Kim waited until they were out of sight before continuing to the target building. She found it unlocked as expected. Taking in a deep breath and letting it out slowly she opened the door quickly, stepped inside, and closed it just as quickly.

"Is someone there?" a soft female voice called out. God but that voice sounded so familiar. Like the others, the sound of her voice always got her. Still Kim turned her emotions to steel. It had to be done, it just had to.

She watched her step out of what she knew was the small bedroom. She was barely dressed. Her hair was long and just a little curly. Kim could remember a time when she kept her hair long. Unfortunately, long hair was now a luxury. It got in the way so her hair was short. A boy cut short. A little long on the top of her head though cut very short in back.

It was a time where there were no bras so she could tell that she wasn't wearing one. Even her breasts were a match for hers. So were her long legs.

"Is someone there?" she called out and looked around the room. As expected Kim saw her eyes land on where she was standing. Her invisibility system wasn't perfect. By its very nature there were lines or edges that showed up if you were careful enough to notice them.

Kim watched her mouth fall open and then it moved like she was going to ask a question, but she closed it.

Kim lifted her arm and ran a scan of her. She was unarmed and Kim knew that her training would be more than enough to counter anything she did so she used her other hand and pressed a short series of panels.

Kim heard her suck in a breath when Kim came into view as the invisibility disappeared in a cascade-like event starting from the device on her arm. It allowed her to see exactly who was here.

Kim watched her open and close her mouth like a fish. She just knew that her mind was racing. "Who..." Kim knew what she meant. Who was she and yet knew who she was. It was just like the others.

"I don't expect you to understand. It's just that I can't allow you to exist. There can be only one. They stole from me and I can't allow that." Kim pressed a short series of panels on her arm. This allowed the weapon that was stored on a similar panel that was attached to her back to rise up to her shoulder and point at her. It was obvious that she recognized a weapon when she saw one.

"NO, PLEASE. You don't have to do this." Her life might not be perfect but it was hers and she was doing the best that she could.

Kim had no intention of saying she was sorry since she wasn't. Otherwise she couldn't do this.

Kim used her contact to focus her shot on her heart and fired. A brilliant blue light in the shape of a dart erupted form her weapon and even before either of them could blink it struck her chest and literally blew a hole in her chest. A hole about the size of a baseball.

The look of shock remained on her face with the word, "Why?" frozen on her lips. The woman was dead before her body hit the floor.

Kim didn't feel sorry for her. She stowed her weapon, walked over to her body, and knelt down. As expected the shot had cauterized the wound so that there was little to no blood evident.

She pressed a few panels and ran her arm over the body and looked at the results. Her eyes opened wide since this was a first for her. "SHIT! ...You're pregnant." She hadn't just killed her, she'd killed a baby. She pressed another series of panels and ran her hand over the body again.

"Several different DNA types are present." This confused her at first. Then Kim came to the realization of how so many different DNA strands could be present. She put 2 plus 2 together. "You're a prostitute. That's why you have been gone all day."

"I'm sorry, little one, I really am. It's just that your mommy shouldn't even exist." Kim steeled her thoughts over having killed an unborn innocent. She couldn't afford to let a dead unborn baby from affecting her. She couldn't allow herself to question what she did if she even knew the woman was pregnant. Kim also couldn't afford to question if she herself would ever be pregnant. Besides you had to have sex first before you could be pregnant. Well, it was the standard method and she hadn't had sex in what felt like a long time.

Kim pressed a short series of panels and withdrew a small vial from the mechanical arm that came from the panel on her back. She opened it and poured the bright blue liquid that actually glowed over the body. She stood there and watched as the liquid dissolved the body completely leaving behind what little clothing the woman had been wearing.

She pressed a series of panels and ran her arm over the space where the body used to be and studied the results. Just like the others it left no trace of DNA. It was like she had never physically existed.

Kim could do nothing about the lives of people she had touched and that wasn't the point. Was someone going to miss her? Was there someone who loved her? None of that mattered. All that mattered was that the DNA had been destroyed.

"There can be only one," Kim told the empty space quietly as she pressed a series of panels on her arm. In a blinding flash of white light, Kim vanished; in another blinding flash of white light arrived at her new location.

It was time to get started on finding the next one before taking a short break.