[The Haruhi Suzumiya characters are the creation of Nagaru Tanigawa,
etc. No infringement of their rights is intended.]

Once again I rushed to the meeting of myself. We were the last human in existence, and my level of survival was slim. As I took my seat at the meeting table, I saw so few of myself now. As the third, I was the youngest of myself at the council and now even the seventh was flickering from random noise in the time stream while the eighth was reduced to almost a shadow, a faint presence that could only be seen from the corner of my eye.

The others of me were looking in my direction, so I tried to explain the delay. "I'm sorry I'm late. The second has begun to suspect that it's turtles all the way down."

There was a faint echo, as if the eighth had said something and then the seventh replied. "And we are running out of turtles indeed. Third, can you still distinguish me clearly?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Very well, I shall preside. The rest of ourselves have reached a potential decision, but you yourself must review it of course."

"As you wish, Ma'am."

"Our scope for operations remains the period between the merger event and the final data entity attack, once they realized the cause of the great human awakening was their own exiled princess."

"Yes, but what can we do?" I asked my elder self.

"The problem seems to be Haruhi. Despite her name, our Miss 'Cold Palace' is far too unstable a prison for the banished alien princess."

"But what can be done about that, as we are unable to reach any further back than the moment of merger?"

"We have determined that if we send both of our field agents back together, then they will bounce off each other and reach a few hours before the event."

"And what shall we tell them to do, terminate Haruhi?"

"No, the merger will still happen, just with a random human being, and we are running out of time to find who that might be."

"Then?"

"The target seems to be the person who stands there on that day and actually draws the pattern on the ground. Our research has determined that even before the merger, Haruhi sought to delegate her strange projects to others."

"So we should present our youngest self for the merger?"

"No." The seventh faded for a moment then continued. "If we provide a candidate who is expressing esper powers, then the alien princess will use these to hasten her escape. We need someone who is resistant to these effects."

"Kyon."

"Yes. Do you have any other options or questions?"

"No."

"Then tell the first to take him to that first Tanabata, and give the second exactly the same coordinates to cause the bounce."