Prisoners of Time: Origins Reborn

Story I

Bogg Manor-September 1st, 1882

Strong, late summer winds blew through the sparsely lighted streets, sending debris and the first traces of colored, dead leaves scattering over freshly paved sidewalks and cobblestone thoroughfares. Darkness settled in. A rainstorm was brewing. The rhythmic clopping of hooves and rattling wagon wheels blended pleasantly in the young man's ears and soothed his impatient spirit. He flicked his longish, wavy, hair out of his face and scratched his chin. He had grown three days worth of beard stubble. It made no matter, he hadn't stepped out of the house for days.

An earsplitting clap of thunder failed to startle him. He kept his serene, crystal blue eyes upon his current task and continued to tinker on his project – an invention almost two years in development. He figured he would give himself a couple of more weeks, and then it would be ready for the human testing phase. Idle hands were the devil's workshop. It was an old adage his professors expounded on him and he learned to take it to heart.

Phineas Bogg was born of a sea-faring family; his father had been the owner of lucrative, passenger ships. He had lost his dear father to a turbulent storm at sea and his beautiful mother to smallpox not long after. She was accustomed to traveling with her husband and contracted the disease through infected travelers. He blamed the rugged seaman's lifestyle for their early deaths and wanted little to do with it.

Phineas chose to live in a luxurious apartment within the hub of New York City. It was purely for convenience. He wasn't necessarily the reclusive sort that desired to stay out his days in New England or other countryside retreats. Manhattan Island was young and thriving, full of interesting peoples from vivid cultures, and he didn't have to sail the world over to discover them.

Although Phineas was adept at his hereditary profession, and excelled in athletics and music, he discovered he possessed a knack for invention. He indulged himself in building what others found to be nonsensical gadgets. He often impressed his classmates and professors at the elite and fledgling Voyager Academy. With just himself and his vast, inherited fortune to guide him through life, Phineas never denied his whims, nor would he back out of a challenge. He had never heard of Voyager Academy until the headmaster, Professor Gerald C. Garth, approached him four years ago.

It was an odd school of choice for his training. The courses were dynamic, though a few were tedious and difficult to comprehend. Their focus lay on world historical studies, science, and physics. There were peculiar classes on cultural mores and ethics, and exciting ones that involved self-defense strategies and weaponry. Phineas learned things far beyond what was taught at any other academy. The most intriguing aspect was that every student was sworn to secrecy as to his or her studies and nearly all of them had similar life circumstances. They were alone in the world, unmarried, childless, and their families gone astray or dead. The first graduating class was small, merely fifty students. Phineas was awestruck that amongst the students and professional staff were people of color and other nationalities, and there were a number of females.

Phineas enjoyed the company and attention of the female students. Though attracted to her, his patience was sorely tested with the brazenly competitive and tomboyish Olivia Dunne. He was later captivated with the mysterious and elegant Susan Beaudreau. He often suspected both were endeared to him. But he was sternly reminded of one specific rule. There was to be no courtships between classmates, or fellow Voyagers, as the student body was called.

The lessons at Voyager Academy were too intense to have the student's hearts and minds aflutter with dreams of romance. This prickled Phineas' nerves, but he soon understood their reasoning when his coursework interfered with nearly every aspect of his personal life. Any irritating and addictive habits a student posessed had to be quenched within the first three months, or else they faced expulsion. Phineas had only known one student who was kicked out, Dante Danior Drake III.

Phineas could only imagine Drake was the third in a long line of cheats and vile men. He had caught Drake cheating on his final exams, but chose not to be a tattletale. However he couldn't resist spreading a humorous rumor when he found out that 'Danior' meant 'born with teeth.' By the time Drake was expelled, nearly all the students were calling him 'chops.' He didn't know why Drake was removed from the academy and dared not to ask, but the story went that he had stolen a very valuable tool from the academy science labs.

Those chosen for Voyager Academy had a specific calling, and needed to put personal differences and preferences aside. There was no bigotry among his professors and all were treated as equals. Students who failed to accept this credo were expelled. Phineas was often told by his professors that he was the least discriminatory young man they had ever met.

~V~

Phineas took pause from his work to down a glass of cool water and finish off the vegetable soup and half of the thick meat and cheese sandwich his maid had left for dinner. He decided not to eat heavy meals when he worked, it would spoil his concentration and make him drowsy. Phineas glanced at the black, leather-bound journal beside him. The winds had blown it closed and he opened it to the section he needed. The thin, gold-rimmed pages were fluffy from use and the ink was worn and smudged with his fingerprints.

The guidebook never left his person. Neighbors had begun to view Phineas as eccentric when they spied him strolling through the streets in scruffy, pirate style clothes with a fountain pen in hand. He was was always intensely occupied in the book's contents. They were filled with Academic and personal notes, sketches, and calculations. It contained over two year's worth of engineering and scientific research that had enhanced his intelligence and understanding of his very important endeavor as a future Voyager.

On the exterior, the book resembled a bible, with a large 'V' etched in gold and his name embossed in elegant lettering across the bottom right corner. This was his personal guidebook; presented to him upon his graduation from the Voyager Academy. Phineas begged to be given this specific invention assignment. It was a fantastic notion his professors had, but after applying himself to his courses, Phineas realized its critical significance and the Academy's ultimate goals.

At the ripe age of twenty-five, Phineas Bogg never guessed that he would grow bored with the frivolity of his privileged life and the vanities of his extremely handsome youth. Although far from a dandy, Phineas had often been seen at influential public events, shows, and gatherings with various ladies on his arm. He never took the outings very seriously, and always looked out for grander prospects than to marry young and settle into his wealth. His professors noted he was a plucky man, prone to distraction, but dedicated to his assigned tasks and a loyal sort that would do his best in whatever situation was thrust upon him.

"Your imagination, creativity and youthful vivacity will certainly aid you in your future occupation," they had cryptically told him. They never breathed a word on what that future occupation would be, until his final year.

A bolt of blue lightning streaked across the sky and a few of his newly installed light bulbs burned out. Phineas stood up and approached the window. He would fix them in the morning. Raindrops pattered down, then the sky opened up and he could no longer see the streets before him. He rested his hands on the windowpane.

"I can only hope whomever is lost out there tonight finds safe haven." He murmured.

Phineas cracked his knuckles and stretched out his sinewy body. He was going to have to engage in some sport before long, or else he would lose his stamina. He chuckled at the thought of his maid, Ramona. She had been scolding him to eat more because she felt he was growing much too gaunt. Ramona was a cheery, elderly Scot who had served the Bogg family since Phineas was in knickers. She was the only woman he trusted next to his mother and he viewed her as family. Gracious servitude was her life course and she had grown very fond of the Boggs. Although she feared losing her position upon his parent's death, Phineas would have never thought to turn her out.

Phineas' keen eyes focused on the streets below. The downpour ebbed but he observed people still running to find refuge and shuttering their windows and storefronts. The lightning and thunder continued their boisterous noise and frightened horses. Phineas' gaze happened upon a small figure in dark, shabby clothing sprinting down the cobblestone. Racing alongside him was a large brown dog. A bull mastiff perhaps? Phineas didn't care. He claimed to boast plenty of teeth marks to back up his general dislike for the slobbering creatures. Twenty feet behind them was a police Constable angrily waving his baton. Phineas didn't know whom he wanted to win this race, the unfortunate pickpocket and his mutt, or the crooked law official. He rooted for the child and laughed aloud when he knocked over a block of ice and slid down an alley to his freedom.

The officer skidded, and then teetered over the icy shards until he landed on his behind in a muddy, soaking mess. A slew of foul words escaped him and he vowed to catch up to the boy next time. Phineas opened his window and peered closer at the alley. He noticed the boy gazing upward in his direction with resolute, dark eyes, as if committing his building to memory.

Phineas waved and then closed his window and turned to his table. He didn't want the boy to think he could run to him for refuge. He knew where he came from – a rotten gang of street hooligans from the Lower East side that preyed on the wealthy. Phineas wasn't about to become one of their victims. His conscience bothered him. The apartment would be a perfectly safe haven for the boy in this storm, but he couldn't jeopardize his plans. Work still called for him, but sleep also beckoned. Phineas ruffled his sandy-colored hair and packed up his supplies for the evening with a wry smile.

"One day, very soon, I will no longer be a prisoner of time…"