Eliminating Redundancies

By Adrian Tullberg

***

The large, naked man regarded the three punks with a clinical indifference.

"Your clothes. Give them to me."

Since their hands were already curled around switchblades, their response was immediate, and admittedly predetermined.

However, a bright red flash of light, and a burning, cauterised hole in the large man's left temple was something of a surprise. Face expressionless, he toppled to the ground with a fairly impressive thud.

The larger man's bulk had been concealing another person from the punk's view. He had a sharp two-piece suit, a big, bright smile, and holding a rifle that looked too chrome and too thin to be real.

The .357 revolver the newcomer had just pulled from his jacket looked very genuine.

"Guys? Take a hike."

The three punks decided to take this very sound advice, and hurriedly split.

The man hunkered down, and consulted a device on his left wrist that was a bit too large to be a watch. "So, big guy ... " He ran the device over the ... inactive individual on the ground. "... obviously you work out ... why don't you take me to your gym .... and spot me a few reps?"

"Stop chatting up the android, mate."

The Time Agent grinned, and held up his wrist device. "If you can recite Pi to fifty places, you're there, buddy."

"I prefer the living. Finished your scans?"

"Yup. Late twentieth, early twenty-first century engineering techniques for it's body, however ..." the wrist device was played over the victim's head. "The computer systems are closer to late twenty-second, early twenty-third. Intelligence got it right, we've got ourselves a causality loop."

"Well, log the scans for the paperwork then. I don't want some prat in accounting whinging about my expense forms."

***

The man in the alley had a similar wrist device to the Agent some miles away. However, the red coat from the Napoleonic Wars was a subtle clue that he didn't belong here.

"I've already logged them. I'm going to set up a localised disintegration field and vape the evidence. As soon as you finish, we can hit the clubs, okay?"

"I'll finish as soon as I find it. Intelligence may have gotten your location sorted, but if I have to wait ..."

The time/space continuum ripped apart to accommodate a sphere of pure electrical force some feet above the man in the alley.

"... about bloody time."

The sphere dematerialised, dropping a scarred, naked young man onto the unforgiving ground below.

The man in the red coat casually walked up to the pain-racked, traumatised Kyle Reese, consulting his wrist device. Definitely the second half of the loop.

The Tech-Com Sergeant, hand-picked by John Connor himself, could barely muster the energy to look up at the man pulling out an automatic pistol with a pre-attached silencer.

"Sucks to be you, mate."

Two shots rang out in the alley. Another double-tap was reserved for the transient who'd picked the wrong alley to sleep in.

***

Sarah Jeanette Connor woke with a start, tears streaming down her face.

Despite remembering no nightmare, or her best friend Ginger holding her hand all night at the kitchen table, she couldn't get over the inexplicable sense of loss.