part One, Two.
Prompt(s): Beginning of Series 3: Sarah is the new girl in town, and she notices Connor's better qualities right away.
Becker appreciates Sarah's more disciplined approach to science... and other things.
note: the early drafts were more Sarah-centric…Connor took over in the rewrites.
Pairing/Characters: Connor Temple, Mary Tremayne, Sarah Page, Ditzy, Lacey, Mitts, O’Keefe, Cutter, Abraham Farr.
faint Connor/Sarah. Mentions of possible Connor/Mary in the past.
Spoilers: 3.01, 3.10, and gleanings of series 2.
Summary: Connor and Mary return from the past…to the British Museum in a world where Helen Cutter had never existed.
Notes: Timeline 1 – series 1. Timeline 2 – series 2 & 3. Timeline 3 – branching off from the s3 finale.
Creatures: Incognitum (Proboscidae), Pristichampsus (Crocodilia), Raptor (?).
Warnings: use of sharp prickly plants as weapons.
The Characters were created by, as follows: Connor & Sarah & Abby & Cutter & Leek (the show's creators & writers). Tanya Lacey (Reggietate). Dave "Ditzy" Owen (Fredbassett). Finn (Fredbassett). Mary Tremayne (Rodlox). Abraham Farr (Rodlox). "Mitts" (Rodlox). O'Keefe (Rodlox).
Disclaimer: I own none of the canon characters. I have asked permission of the OFCs’ owners to place the OFCs in this fic. I own my own OFCs, but am willing to share them.
-History used to be simpler back when there wasn’t so much of it-
--book ‘Polaris’ by Jack McDevitt—
‘The real price of every thing, what every thing really costs to the man who wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it.’ --from ‘The Wealth of Nations’ by Adam Smith, 1776.
“We knew that all of this was make-believe, and yet it was not.” --Cordwainer Smith, ‘Alpha Ralpha Boulevard’ (1961)
Warning: I’m writing this with the implicit assumption that the Canopic Statues – er, the Sun Cage – are being kept opposite the Museum’s entrance. My reason: in 3.01, Sarah walks past a statue of Khepera (the Scarab on the circular stone) to the stairway, and from there into the room. Based on the map provided at the Official Site for the British Museum, the hall of Ancient Egypt only has direct access to one stairway.
PROLOGUE: Timeline One & Timeline Two:
Era: The Late Miocene:
Doggish and wagging, the outliers of the pack sniffed at the remains of the footprints in the Devonian-era sandstone.
A Pristichampsus print.
Location: Racetrack facility:
“Sarah, you stay here with Lacey, Tremayne, Ditzy, and Becker,” Quinn says.
“No,” Hillary says. “Mary goes with you.”
“This is no time for arguments.”
More than a few of us chuckle at that. Then Dr Page says she wants to go with Quinn – bugger if I know why. And he replies that, “Nobody’s saying goodbye.” Not deliberately, anyway.
“Connor, here,” Hillary says, handing Connor a rucksack.
I step over to Hillary and nod. Family doesn’t need to thank family, particularly when doing so would reveal we’re family.
“Actually I do need a word with you, Mary,” Hilary says.
“Yes?” I ask.
“Do the job first. Don’t go running off to look for Abraham the first chance you get. These three, they’re your responsibility.”
“You may not care that our family is dying,” I tell him, “but I do. And I know my duty.”
“Keep things from killing Connor,” I answer bluntly.
He nods. “And you’re wrong. I do care – I’m telling you what I hope you would have told me if I were going instead of you.”
Era: The Cretaceous:
‘Just hurry up!’ Danny had told me.
‘Uh, I’m not very good with pressure,’ I said to nobody in particular.
‘You’ve never died on my watch, and you won’t start now,’ Mary told me.
Once Abby and Danny had gone through the anomaly, Lt Tremayne had grabbed a fistful of the back of my shirt and, facing the Future Predators behind me, shot at them while shoving me into the anomaly.
Abby’s shouting at me “Shut it!” Yeah, while I’m the one up next to the anomaly closing it. Had to turn around to do it, though, which wasn’t easy since Mary had walked backwards the whole way through.
Once the anomaly’s sealed, Danny tells me, “Never doubted you for a second.” Sure mate, right. Whatever you say.
I look around and wonder where we are. And when, which Einstein proved are well’n’truly connected.
“More importantly,” Danny says, “where is Helen?” I’m sorry, but were you not with us a minute ago, when me an’ Abby were being surrounded by Future Predators? Looked like you.
But I don’t say that either. For one thing, Abby’s talking to Danny about boot prints.
Okay, we’re surrounded by pines. The sort that grew in the Late Jurassic, maybe the Cretaceous. I say as much –
“Big difference there,” Lt Tremayne says. Yeah, that’s true. Didn’t think anyone would comment on it, though.
I don’t even think Abby or Danny even heard a word I said.
- all while I’m trying to think about how far we have to go to catch up with Helen before she can kill –
I stop where I am, right while Danny’s asking me about the local dangers. Helen went to kill at 333. In the Rift Valley. Where only a dozen early homonids died of mysterious causes.
Paleontologists found that, and then Helen left for that point in time. Just like how Captain Ryan’s skeleton was unearthed months before he died. And Helen’s smart enough to check and see if there are any other anomalies slightly before 333 we could use to ambush her or undo anything she does.
“Connor?” Danny asks.
“We don’t have to go,” I say.
“Connor,” Abby says.
“We have to stop Helen,” Danny says.
“No, that’s just it. We don’t,” I say, and open another anomaly, right here.
Mary tilts her head, but doesn’t say a word. Probably chalking this up to more Temple eccentricity.
There’s the loud hiss-and-roar of raptors, and I say, “We should go.”
“You go,” Danny says. “Me, I’ll be following Helen. I’m not about to let her succeed.” She’s not going to. I know it.
I don’t know why Lt Tremayne joined me by the anomaly. Maybe because I have the anomaly-opener, maybe because she and Danny never get along, maybe…
“I’m not going with you, Connor,” Abby tells me, and her eyes are accusing. Again.
One more piece of evidence adding itself to the tally that I don’t like to think about…the possibility that Abby never really liked me.
Exhibit A – Abby asked me ‘you did it for me, didn’t you?’ when Jack at last came clean about gambling away Rex. And I couldn’t tell her I’d never blown a whistle in my life; that would’ve hurt her too much.
Exibit B – how much Abby seems to enjoy volunteering me for things that’ll probably end with me dying in some spectacularly horrible way. I don’t mind volunteering, but I like doing it myself.
Exhibit C -
“I’ll leave it open as long as I can,” I promise them as I back up into this anomaly, as I watch them run off in the direction those tracks run. They never wanted to hear me explain. Even Cutter and Stephen, even when they were cross with me, they’d still listen to what I had to say.
When I’m on the other side, I look around, see that it’s clear, and I plunk myself down on the painfully bare ground to watch this anomaly… and based on the device, Helen’s Anomaly doesn’t close.
Night falls and the Anomaly closes. By the light of the insanely enormous Moon overhead, I check the device. Nothing – the Anomaly’s gone, and its taken the strand with it.
Now… I don’t know. Wander history for eight years? Try and find a path to 333 regardless of how useless it’d be to do?
Nah, there’s a Devonian anomaly back to when we’re from, and it will be opening soon or soonish…so its probably best I stay here a while longer, see what I can learn from –
I grab Connor by his shirt again, this time to keep him from running off into the abysmal surroundings we have now. Abysmal surroundings? My god, I’ve become my mother. “Is this the Hadean?” I ask him to keep him from getting lost. “Or the K-T?” Either way, right now, we’re standing near the summit of an all-black hill on what looks like either a small peninsula or an island of equal size. No other land in sight.
And the ocean is frozen. Pack ice thick.
“Not sure,” he says. “Though, if this’ the Hadean, how’re we breathing?”
Nice play on pronounciation there. “The door may swing both ways,” I say, quoting one of the Babylon Five movies. I’m not totally helpless.
“The anomaly, right? Genius!”
Connor grins, though bugger me if I know what amuses him so. “And what was so important that you were willing to asphyxiate?” I ask him.
I give a light tug on his shirt, then let go.
“Oh, that, right,” Connor says.
I swore I’d keep him safe even if it killed me, but I’m still amazed he hasn’t driven me prematurely grey before history erases me.
“I was going to go through the anomaly to the Devonian. Back when we first met Dr. Sarah Page, there were Devonian-specific spores in the lungs of both the Pristicampsus and the dead man. Professor Cutter thought it was just pollution of one era by a breeze through an Anomaly, but I never really thought that was right.” You weren’t in perfect agreement with the Professor, Connor?
“Then you should have said so,” I tell him. “Where is it?”
“Uh, it hasn’t opened yet,” Connor says.
Great. Just great. “That’s not snow,” I say, looking out at the sparkling motes falling from the sky. They’re falling too hard and fast for me to say they’re drifting, and it’s not any water-based precipitation; that much I know.
Connor looks too. “Well, if this is the K-T, then that’s ash…but it doesn’t look like ash, at least none I’ve seen before. Its more likely this is the Hadean, so that would make this…silicates. Like glass.”
“Lovely,” I mutter.
“Yeah, it is,” Connor says. He waits a while before adding, “Is it all right if I ask you a question?”
“It depends upon the question,” I say, measured.
“Last time we were in the Museum – I say ‘last time’ because we’ll probably end up there again – you exploded at everyone.” I shouted at everyone, even Tanya and Hillary; that’s right, Connor. “Can I ask why?”
“Because of who had fallen through the anomaly,” I tell him. Surely even Cutter could not have forgotten about the human corpse who came through the same anomaly as the Pristichampsus. I forget myself: Cutter most certainly could have. But you wouldn’t, Connor. Because your brain isn’t wired that way.
Connor just stands there, as though he is content to wait however long he has to. Two can play that game…but I won’t. Not today.
“You know my family moved here from overseas, do you not?”
Connor nods. “Late 1700s, right?”
I nod. Good, you were paying attention. Not sure I was talking to you at the time, however. “Yes. The man who came through into the Museum… He was Abraham Farr, the first of that side of my family to be born in England – he changed the family name -”
“No. We married into the Tremayne family later. He changed the family name to Farr.” Ah, “The silica-fall is lightening.”
“Ask,” I interrupt.
“Why was ‘Farr’ chosen to be your new family name?”
“One, it’s English. Two, wish fufilment,” I say, stopping as an obnoxious-looking cloud passes in front of the sun.
“What was he wishing for?”
“Think about when he left - ‘farr’ is the right to depose a corrupt king.”
“Oh. Sorta like the Mandate of Heaven?”
“No idea,” given that I’ve just given you all I know about it.
“And the anomaly just opened,” Connor says. “Right over…there,” pointing to a spot on the coast, obscured by the boulders washed up by past tsunamis, I’d estimate.
“Deep breath, deep breath,” Connor says, no doubt as much to himself as to me.
We run for the anomaly, down the hill, our eyes shadowed by one hand to keep the silic- hell, keep the grit out of our eyes – and around a few boulders bigger than Cutter’s van, and we collapse through the anomaly.
We lay there, on the mud flat, opening and half-closing and opening our mouths, gasping like the first tetrapod to ever stick its ugly mug above the water.
I have no idea how long we didn’t move from where we were, because it took a long while for us to catch a breath and feel like our legs won’t give out from under us. Well, reasonably sure they won’t give out. And it probably feels like longer than it really was.
No idea when Lt Tremayne took her sidearm out – don’t blame her, since there was a chance something would’ve come by to investigate the anomaly and try taking a munch on us.
“I have a question,” she tells me.
“I’ll try to have an answer,” I say, hoping that didn’t sound too smartass. Considering all the questions I’ve subjected her to, both on this mission and over the past year, I’m kinda surprised she hasn’t hit me or threatened to shoot more than my foot.
“Why do you want to come here?”
“To save Mr Farr,” I say.
“Why do you want to save him?” Mary asks me.
“Because I’m in a position to help, and I’ve missed enough opportunities as it is.”
“I.e. Doctor Page,” she mutters. Wait, what? “And now you’re saving Abraham,” Mary says, and I haven’t a clue what happened to her voice right there. It didn’t crack, and I don’t recall ever hearing Abby sound like that…
“Uh, you’re welcome?” I ask.
“Of course, my mistake,” and holstering her sidearm and shouldering her rifle, she turns to face me, placing one of her hands on each of my arms just shy of my shoulders. She’s leaning in towards me and –
I froze. My eyes told me Mary was about to kiss me – something I’d always thought wasn’t possible. It’s a trap! my mind’s telling me. She’s going to hit me, or to bite my nose, I just know it.
Mary kissed one cheek, then the other, let go and backed away, saying a brief statement in a language I don’t know. “Better?” as she took hold of her weapon once more.”
“I – uh – wow. But, ah…”
“That wasn’t why?” Mary asked.
I don’t like seeing people upset. You were upset back at the Museum. I can help, now.
But I don’t say any of that – she’d take it wrong, and hit me this time.
The ground’s more lightly-angled than sloping, so there’s a lot more shallow mud to walk through before we come into sight of Mr. Farr.
When we get there, I’m lookin’ down a little escarpment – fifteen feet above a savanna where the trees’re poles and there’s a man clinging to the top of one of ‘em. If that’s not Mr. Farr, we’re in trouble. With four Pristichampsuses – Pristichampsi? – circling his spot, no doubt growling up a storm and getting hungry.
The Anomaly swells up and settles back, which pisses off the nearer Pristichampsus, who sticks his head through – long enough to roar, I reckon, based on what was on the security footage – and is wholly here again.
Right. I’ve got a time limit, then.
So what do I do? I ask myself, looking closely and carefully at my surroundings. Don’t run into trouble, I tell myself sternly; nobody here to come save me. Except the guy I’m trying to save. And Mary, but she’s already shooting at the Pristichampsi.
Why do I have a bad feeling that that sound just now, means that she’s out of ammo?
“Two down,” Mary says. “Two left.”
I fire my makeshift slingshot at the smaller of the two. Proof of concept and all that.
Bull’s-eye! Uh-oh, now he’s looking at me. And roaring. He’s looking and he’s roaring. Reload, reload!
Ow, right in the roof of his mouth. Bet that hurts more than if the rancor’d eaten Hans Solo. Or forgetting to spit out the bone in a jellied eel; not that I’ve ever done that.
Did I hit his tongue or some sort of a rete mirabelum? Because that’s *a lot* of blood.
The other Pristichampsus, she half-rises to upright and lets loose with a heavy, prolonged **hooooot**, and then bolts into the Anomaly as her boyfriend collapses. I’m not bitter, not in the slightest, just like I don’t feel like that’s what’s been happening to me. The pain and collapsing, not the running.
Uh, didn’t Becker say he saw a herd of Pristichampsus sitting on this side of the Anomaly? So…that was a call for reinforcements? We’d better get moving.
Shortest way down’s a skid down the bare hillface dirt. From there to the veggie tower the living dead guy’s still holding on to.
The Pristchampsus’ definitely dead, not to mention it’s really quite sincerely dead. Even so, Mary’s not against looking like she’s about to club it.
“You can come down now,” I tell him.
He comes sliding down, bringing a cloud of pollen in the process. Once that’s pretty much outta the way, he tells me, “That was impressive targeting. Royal Army?” he asks me, not Mary.
“Uh, no, not really. Home Office,” extending a hand ‘cause I imagine standing’s not easy after being up a tree for so long.
“Brazen fool,” he admonishes me, and I pull back my hand. You related to Mary Tremayne? Just a hunch.
Speaking of which, Mary’s chuckling.
“Take me home,” he tells me.
“Sure,” I say. “I’m Connor, by the way. Connor Temple.”
“Abraham Farr,” he says. Well, it was a thought...and half a second later, I wonder how I forgot they're related?
We go through the Anomaly, and “Don’t shoot!” I shout. Some things never change.
.* * *.
The future predators1 no longer existed. The future predators2 still exist. The other predators now exist.
1 were gaunts, chittering acrobats.
2 are blubberies, bellowing swimmers.
It is not from the future that the others come, but from the Nearly. They did not exist, first by the narrowest of margins, then because Helen Cutter ensured they would not arise.
And now Helen Cutter does not exist. Now her influence is vanishing, unleashing the things she had worked to stop.
The other predators venture through the anomaly, trunks questing in a constant search for food.
For meat, on foot.
.* * *.