Working title: The Affairs Of Gods.
Summary: Abby has been kidnapped, and only Connor can save her. But there’s the rub.
There were Vikings here among her kidnappers, Abby had already noticed. But now she saw that there were warriors from other periods in human history - Roman legionaires, Mongol horsemen, Parthian archers, Cherokee fighters, and several Japanese Zero pilots standing alongside men in ANZAC uniforms.
Characters: Abby Maitland, Connor Temple, Future Connor Temple, Future Abby Maitland; brief scenes with Stephen Hart, Nick Cutter, Helen Cutter, Mari Sharon.
Recipient: Evenstar Estel.
Prompt(s): I mashed these together….but technically its more Prompt#3...
Prompt #2: - Future!Abby comes back and confronts her present day self
- Before disappearing Future!Abby warns Present!Abby about upcoming danger in order to save Connor's life
- Abby prevents Connor's death and realizes how much she loves him
- Happy ending where they finally get together
Prompt #3: - Connor or Abby is kidnapped/trapped by either Neanderthals, Vikings, Pirates, Mongol Horde, or whatever
- Connor or Abby goes into Action! mode and to the rescue (other characters can help if you like)
- Happy ending of course, lots of Conby!Love
Pairing: Connor/Abby feelings.
Warnings: deathfic for soldiers mentioned.
Disclaimer: I own none of the canon characters, who are owned by ITV (last I checked), with Mari Sharon coming from Fire and Water…I am happy to share the creature if you like.
2nd Disclaimer: This took so long because I wanted to get it right - both the canon feelings of one character for another…and also to obey the prompts. To have Mongol or Viking kidnappers would - imho - have required either an OC for the length of the fic…or have the kidnappers all be a faceless horde that can be killed without concern - neither of which I felt was what was requested. So I came up with this.
3rd Disclaimer: In canon, Connor uses different references to talk to friends such as Tom and Duncan, and other references in what Connor says to Cutter and Lester. I tried to keep such code-switching language as true to the character as possible.
And a big Thank You to my tireless beta, Fredbassett; much appreciated.
(all errors in here, are my own fault)
Abby really hoped that this was one of the Anomaly Detector’s rare false alarms. She wasn’t feeling up to much today, not after learning that Christine Johnson had erased all of Jack’s gambling debts while he was under Abby’s roof. Wading through this mud was no help, either. The only up side to it all, was that it was a clear, sunny day here in South Devon.
But the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty had been disturbed by an open anomaly. We go where the Detector says something came through, Abby thought to herself, trying to see something cheerful about it. To her ears, there weren’t even the calls of birds. Presumably, they had all been scared off by whatever creature had come through here.
“You okay, Abby?” Connor asked over the radio.
Abby sighed. And then there’s you, Connor. One would have thought that platonically cohabitating would have been the harder, more complex thing to do. Yet she was finding that her feelings were in an even greater tumult after giving him the boot from her flat, than before Jack had arrived on her doorstep.
“I’m fine, Connor,” Abby said. “I’m just not that keen to see what we’re going to be shooting at this time.”
“Hopefully it will be something we can herd back to its home,” Cutter said.
Yeah, that’d be nice, Abby thought. That just doesn’t happen as much as we’d like, does it?
It had been one of the earliest compromises under the ARC’s joint administration: a soldier to shadow everyone and be their bodyguard.
Though Abby didn’t see why Connor liked his sweet-tongued soldier so much. Mari’s nothing like him, Abby thought to herself. Then again, neither am I, not really, and much as I don’t act like I see how he’s carried himself around me this past year…I’ve seen. Just did sod all about it.
Reap what you sow, as dad told us.
And that was when the beeping started.
Abby’s soldier clicked his safety off and looked to her for direction. Abby in turn looked at the magnetometer in her left hand, watching the dial jump like a frightened hare.
As there weren’t supposed to be buried electrical lines here - Abby suspected that was because heads would roll if an AONB was desecrated by power lines - Cutter had decided magnetometers would be a good idea for this trip out.
As the readout leaped higher and higher, her soldier - Krysyski, I think, Abby tried to recall - he had only been assigned to her this morning - asked, “Is the anomaly coming up?” and they both looked at their the mud that had swallowed their feet.
Abby’s trained eyes broke the creatures down, figuratively speaking. Long and tubular, with local mud sticking to the body and not to mucus. That narrows the field of possible grandparents, Abby thought as she reached for her tranquiliser gun, though she doubted it would have much effect on the creature.
Unlike moray eels, these still had their pectoral fins. With a snikt Abby suspected she imagined more than heard, the fins snapped out into use. They were heavily modified into stabbing and slicing weapons, but still recognizably stemmed from the pectorals.
The creature swooped its head down to Abby’s soldier, slashing him open in one, easy movement with its right pectoral blades. And it looked at Abby with tiny eyes which, no matter how she tried, she could not see as beady.
It moved towards her, throwing its body in loops and coils to move even the three metres between her and it.
Abby fired her gun, and wasn’t really surprised that it had so little effect - only surprised at what the effect was. The creature’s skin shimmered and shed its mud all at once - something to do with polarity or something? Abby wondered - Maybe a result of the chemical cocktail in the tranquiliser dart, and not something it does when its about to feed.
Down came the creature’s head, mouth opening, exposing needle-sharp teeth each no bigger than one of Abby’s own fingers. Staring up at it, knowing she couldn’t outrun the creature, Abby could hear the screams of men, and wondered how many of these creatures were here.
And it bit down into her jacket and shirt. Feeling its pitted lips brushing her bra and shoulder blades, Abby had a very bad feeling. Has it been sent to fetch me?
As it lifted her three body lengths into the air and waited for the anomaly to rise from the mud as well, Abby was consoled by one thought: Connor will convince Lester and Christine to spend ARC time and resources to rescue me. No way these things killed him like they killed Kryz… Not possible.
And the screams grew louder, resolving into determined cries and shouts in a language Abby didn’t know. She knew one word of what was being said as the men raced up the mud towards her and the creature - Midgard. That’s Norse. But… and frowned when she looked at the warriors racing up to surround the creature. But how is it they can run on top of the mud? To her mind, that and the creature were more pressing issues than the question of what were Vikings doing here. Historical re-enactors, probably. Let’s hope those aren’t cardboard swords.
The anomaly began to poke above the ground, and the creature dropped Abby so it could dive into the anomaly for safer locales.
The Vikings picked Abby up like so much kindling - one person holding her wrist, another her ankle, etc - and, without so much as wiping or shaking the mud from her, collectively carried Abby to the shoreline, handing her to their crewmates aboard ship. You lot are so dead, Abby thought to herself, knowing that Connor could trace her whereabouts by keying in on a chip in the ARC-issued radio that…
Shit, Abby thought when she was placed on the ship’s deck and realized that her radio was lying where she had been dropped. A minor setback. Connor will still find me. It might just take an hour longer.
The Vikings let go of her, and a cry resounded as Abby stood up: “Ebeh!” To a man, every single Viking dropped to his knees, prostrating himself before Abby and the robed figure standing in the center of the deck with her.
“Cast off,” the figure said, instructing the sailors of the crew. “I have opened an anomaly for us to rest in our shelter.”
To Abby’s ears, the robed woman had a voice that was wine to the grapes of Abby’s voice - older and more seasoned, but recognizably the same. “You - You’re me.”
Nobody raised a voice in protest or challenge or accusation or anything… Which made Abby think she might be wrong.
“I am,” the robed Abby said. “From your future.”
“Then why kidnap me?” Abby asked.
“Because it was done to me,” future!Abby said. “That is how time works. And Professor Cutter is correct that one should not meddle in what has happened.”
“But you are meddling,” Abby said. “It just happens to be meddling that you’re reinforcing, instead of correcting like you should.”
“Then blame the man in your life,” the future Abby said with no trace of irony or humor in her tone. “Originally, I was eaten by the creature you encountered out there. He motivated the… call them the nucleus of my army. He motivated them to save me.”
“You sure you’re free?” Abby challenged her.
“As free as Helen Cutter,” she said just before the ship passed through the anomaly. After they were on the other side, she said, “These men are loyal to me,” spreading her hands as if to encompass everyone assembled on board the ship.
There were Vikings here, Abby had already noticed. But now she saw that there were warriors from other periods in human history - Roman legionaires, Mongol horsemen, Parthian archers, Cherokee fighters, and several Japanese Zero pilots standing alongside men in ANZAC uniforms.
“If they’re loyal, then they’ll listen to me, right?” Abby asked.
Her future self smiled. “Come with me, and I’ll explain.”
“Come where? We’re on a barge.”
Her future self stepped to one side, and Abby could see a cabin behind her. Couldn’t see the door til now, and I was understandably distracted so I didn’t notice the walls either. Just this low-riding boat of hers - mine - ours.
“As mum used to say, there are more things in heaven and earth,” the older woman said. “And now, we are one of them.”
“One of who?”
“Easier to show you,” she said.
“Show me what?” Abby asked.
“A position of power, a source of strength, a way to save anything you ever wanted to save. You can follow me and read it, or I could get a true believer from this crowd to recite it for us - I’m fine either way.”
Suspecting that saying ‘Recite what for us?’ would be interpreted as a vote for the latter option, Abby said, “I’ll go with you,” and they entered the empty cabin.
Sitting on a lone table in the middle of the room was a hardcover book. Practically a tome. Two chairs, one on either side of the table, were ready for the two Abbys.
“Okay, I’m here,” Abby said. “So who saved you from that creature?” Abby asked.
The answer is in the book, but fine. “The same man who is going to save you from yourself,” her future self said. “Connor Temple.”
“Connor?” Mari asked. “You feeling fine?”
“I’m good,” I said, and mostly feet it. There were things weighing on him, but he knew he shouldn’t get distracted. Particularly not when they had no idea what manner of creature they would be dealing with.
Though it wasn’t easy, not with the newly-gained knowledge that Jack Maitland was in the pay of Christine Johnson. I’ve got to tell Abby, she deserves to know, I think. I’ve just got no clue how to broach the topic. ‘Say, Abby, do you trust your brother?’ is not what I want to say.
Could be worse, I suppose. Could have been that Abby looks up to Christine as an example of a woman in power - and I’ve learned the hard way that Abby doesn’t like people criticizing her heroes.
My detector starts beeping, its pointer swinging wildly. “We’ve got company,” I say to Mari.
And up comes what I can only assume is an eel. Comes right out of the mud.
Killed Mari right in front of me. It looks at me with what can only be a ‘You are next’ look.
An anomaly opens, forming a really tiny isosoles triangle with me at the far corner, and out steps Darth Vader, one gloved hand raised to take the blow from the eel. Stops the eel cold, it does. Looks like a quickening - all the lightning and electricity from the eel is arcing and snapping around and into Vader…who doesn’t even look inconvenienced about all the stuff.
And the eel drops dead, probably from a low battery.
I know he’s not the real Darth Vader. But with him looking dead-on like Vader, from the helmet and gloves, to the body-covering suit, to the boots… what else am I going to call him? ‘Vader’ until and unless he gives me his name.
My guess is, the helmet and suit are to protect him from hostile environments in the Earth’s history…and from things as dangerous as these eels.
Then he looks at me.
“Come with me if you want to save Abby!” he said, holding out his hand to me.
I’m with him before I can give it a second thought - because why would I hesitate when it comes to Abby?
PART TWO: Connor:
As soon as I trust myself to say something, I say, “Who are you? I mean, I really appreciate you saving my life from those -” what were they? Eldritch electric eels? Shai-hulud’s sushi platter? Whatever they were, it was cool how you didn’t so much as flinch when one slammed into you and tried frying you with however many megajoules of electricity. “From those creatures. But who are you?” You opened an anomaly so we could escape, after all; who can do that?
He looks at me – I assume it’s a guy…would a woman wear something that looks like it was borrowed from Darth Vader’s wardrobe? He tells me, “I am the Lord of Many,” he says in a perfect Vader voice. “Saving you is the point.”
“Oh. Well, anyway, thanks. And, uh, where are we?” Looks like where we left. Only, you know, no ocean. Or estuary. Just mudflats for as far as the eye can see, interrupted only by rocky islands like a dragon’s back. A floral dragon.
“Those aren’t dragons, are they?” I ask.
Deep breathing. Contemplation. Considering. “They are not,” faux Vader says.
Good to know. “And those eels that killed -”
“Natural prey of my landwhales. And that is an accurate name, reflecting their ancestry.” He looks out at an eel trying and failing to electrocute and stab what I suppose can only be a landwhale, before telling me that, “Helen Cutter is being misled. Nefarious forces are attempting to subvert history. Should they succeed, Abby will not be the only casualty.”
Abby’s dead? Is that why you plucked me from my Present Day, not Cutter or Stephen or…or Abby?
“You can end that,” Vader adds.
“Me?” I ask. I want to save Abby, really, I do, but…where do I begin?
“Indeed. And in so doing, not only will the history of life on Earth be preserved, but you and Abby will be together.”
“Together?” I repeat. “Like together, not fused or melded or anything.”
“You will be the only man for her,” Vader assures me.
“This is going to be difficult, isn’t it?” I ask, positive that whatever’s involved, it’s going to hurt.
“There are many things harder than this,” he says. “Consider this. Once you have convinced Helen, I will show you how to rescue Abby.”
“Just out of curiosity…why does it have to be me who gets Helen to change her ways?”
“She listens to you.” And the winner of the Wait What Was That? Award goes to….Lord Vader.
“Historical events. Right now, I am about to open an anomaly to the day Helen Cutter is presently. Go to her encampment and persuade her to abandon her ally.”
“It’s the ally that’s bad, I take it?”
“Immensely,” Vader says, and an anomaly appears. “If she refuses everything, offer her the abyss,” he adds cryptically.
“Are you sure? Couldn’t I talk to Helen after the other things?” Or, you know, not at all. “Impossible stuff last.”
“No,” Vader said. “As joining the Fremen was not the first event in the life of Paul Atreides, so too is there a safe order to your own life.”
I look at Vader. With everything Helen’s done - both the things I know of, and the things I haven’t yet learned about - dealing with her’s a prelude? “Can you give me a hint what my Fremen are?” I ask. I mean, he can’t seriously mean I get an army of my own. God-Emperor Connor Temple? Nah.
“I will and I shall,” Vader vowed.
“After I convince Helen.”
“Yes.” Vader started to press a wrist side button to summon the anomaly, and hesitated. “Know this - history is indeed inviolate. Yet armies have vanished with no trace or remains to mark their passing.”
“Now go,” Vader said.
After Connor left and the anomaly was closed, Vader switched off his voice synthesizer. Speaking in the which had become normal for him by this point, future!Connor said, “Go.”
“Where are we?” Abby said, looking out the door at the ruins on the shoreline.
“England,” the other Abby said. “A few centuries after mankind goes extinct.” Knowing that, To save us - you - Connor’s going to repopulate the Earth.
“You live here?”
A nod. “We are the source of the technology you - Wait, you haven’t encountered it yet.”
“Can’t be too great,” Abby said. “Since you’re all still -”
“Barbarians? Using ships that blend various medieval construction techniques?” The length and breadth of Mongol and Song ships, with the specializations of Viking craft, with a few surprises from the Vijayanagarans and the East India Company. “That’s what we chose to use. That’s not all we are.”
“Right,” Abby said.
Her older self just leaned against the wall and smiled at her.
I emerge on a hillside sloping toward the ocean, skinny poles rising along the waterline. As I go down the hill to where Helen’s standing - she doesn’t look armed, but that’s not stopped her before - I realize that those are telephone poles.
And I stop too, just shy of the roof - yeah, it’s a roof - of something. Helen’s out on the ledge, watching something spyhopping in the water: long, smooth body leaping vertically from the sea and dropping back down to the same place, where it disappears into the ocean. A whale?
Massive stones frame two sides of the building, and the back end smoothly meets the slope. The only drop is out in front…a few inches from where Helen has her feet.
“What is this place?” I ask Helen. I don’t think anyone hates Tesco enough to turn it into a fossil.
“You don’t know?” Helen asks me in turn.
“Sure I do. Tesco.” The carved signs aren’t so illegible I can’t recognize one when I see it. And there’s the distinctive ruins between it and the waterline.
Helen smiles, an easy thing that gives me an idea why Cutter and Stephen cared for her for so long. I mean, sex isn’t everything. “Connor, I know of this place in the same way that you know of the Future Bats.”
Someone introduced you, whereupon a Tesco nearly killed you?
I take a breath and try every trick in every book I’ve ever read, and make up a few on the fly. Sometimes Helen looks swayed. Other times she gives me an appraising look, like I’m something novel.
Then I mention the abyss and how I’m allowed to offer that too. That gets her attention: “Is that so?”
“What abyss?” I ask.
“When one no longer has ties to the world they come from,” Helen says. “Then is when an unending immortality has been achieved.”
“Sounds too philosophical,” I say.
“Wait, ‘unending’?” No wonder Lester couldn’t kill her.
“Essentially. Never aging, never with much scarring if any. One only dies if someone kills them.” And she tilts her head, “And that is on offer?”
“How long have you been out here?” I ask.
“Too long, Mr. Temple. Far too long. May you enjoy it better than I did. And the answer is yes - I’ll do as you ask.”
And now Helen’s gone too. Ran off through down a gully that I certainly hope has got an anomaly at the bottom of it.
I need to sit. So I change my mind and walk to the end of the Tesco, taking a seat on the ledge overlooking where cars used to park.
Some of the things she asked me don’t make any sense – questions like ‘what of the abyss, Mr. Temple?’ Other questions motivated me more to get this done well – such as ‘Would I be correct in assuming that this is one further step towards being reunited with your true love, Mr. Temple?’
But I talked her into not approaching Christine Johnson with the prospect of an alliance, however ephemeral it would’ve been to Helen’s geologic perspective. My job is done here, as Superman and others always said – me too now.
So that leaves me sitting alone on the top of a… I think it used to be part of a Tesco roof, before it was buttressed by a natural geologic formation to keep it from crumbling. Maybe. Could be wrong, though.
But if it is, why’s it so quiet? If mankind’s extinct, I should be hearing birdsong, mammalsong, or at least bugs. If there’re still people around, there should be the sound of civilization.
But that’s about the only pall on an otherwise great day. That and it looks like I’m about to get rained on. Big downpour, by the looks of those clouds.
The hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and I turn to see an open anomaly with its nearer edge only two and a half yards from me. And Vader comes through.
I open my mouth, but Vader holds up one gloved hand.
“Do you really want to go all the way back to the ARC and hope that politics don’t mean Abby gets left high and dry?” Vader asks. “Or do you want to save her?”
“I want to save her,” Connor said. “But… on my own?”
“Only initially,“ Vader says. Then he sounds like me, saying, “Recall what Professor Cutter said about history - that it must proceed as it has been.”
I stare at him. Not cool, using my voice like that. Even the real Vader wouldn’t do that. Pretty sure Mara Jade’s in the same boat when it comes to faking voices, even before she married Luke Skywalker.
“Now think of all the groups who have vanished into the ages - the lost army of Cambyses, score of dragon longships, the Ten Tribes of Israel. All of them, every one ready for you to ask their assistance.”
“Except they’ve already disappeared already,” I point out.
“Just as Captain Ryan’s skeleton was unearthed before he died,” Vader replies.
“I don’t know…” Seems like impossible odds.
And Vader removes his own helmet. Seems to weigh less than the movie version, from what I see.
And I’m looking at myself. A bit older, but not by many years.
“You’re me,” I say.
“That I am,” he says. It seems almost cliché to refer to him as future!Connor now. Think I’ll stick with calling him Vader.
He’s me. A future me.
So he knows this will work. And I need to do this too, because like Professor Cutter said, we can’t keep history from going off the rails. Yeah, he probably would have worded it different.
Connor looked over the soldiers he had been able to convince to join him. Men who had died, according to the history books, their bodies never found. “Thank you,” he told them again.
A Roman replied in Latin.
“Point to where you want us,” one of the Boers said, translating. “And it will be laid waste.”
The lone Mongol princess, commander of her troops, made a remark, and another Mongol by the name of Bolu translated it to Connor in a form of English, “Those who have offended the Sky and wounded the heart, who are guilty of committing harm to those whom custom and civility designate as not to be hurt, they shall be crushed and brought to the justice of Heaven.”
Wow,” Connor thought to himself. And to think my teachers always told me I wasn’t good at public speaking. Needs must indeed, looks true.
Connor looked over the crest of this mountain. “That’s their ship,” Connor said. My future self said they would be in a mega-longship, and there they are. I just hope there aren’t giant Vikings inside.
“Let us save your lady love,” said Alcabaides’ nephew through an interpreter.
“Sounds like a plan to me,” Connor said.
‘So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.’
-- the poet Adrienne Rich
Back on Tescos. Might be a day before I was here last. Or however long it takes cracks to form in boulder-supported concrete, because there’s none next to where I’m sitting now, and there was one right here last time.
And Vader’s back.
“I did what you asked,” I tell him.
“Good. You have done well,” he tells me. Then he says, “Now lets get out of here before we get soaked.”
“Where’re we going?” I ask.
“To view the outcome of what you’ve done,” Vader tells me. “Christine won’t use Abby’s brother against her and the team.” That’s good to know. “I know you’ll like this, and not just because its in the Cretaceous.”
Okay. I follow him through the anomaly, and we’re in woodland. Cretaceous by the looks of it.
“And what about you?” I ask. “Helen mentioned -”
“I am content,” Vader tells me, his helmet back on, but not doing the voice altering stuff anymore.
“Well that’s good to know,” I say. Of course I said that before following Vader - me - for half a mile now. Why didn’t he want to open an anomaly closer?
“Here,” he says, standing aside so I can lead the way. Only he’s not coming.
I look at him, not understanding why he stopped.
“This is for you,” Vader says.
I take a few steps forward, part some branches in my way, and I see -
And now I see us – me and Abby. We’re nestled together in a tree.
Granted, there’re raptors sleeping at the base of the tree, but that wouldn’t stop Abby from nixing it if she wanted to.
“What do you wish?” Vader asks me.
Right now, nothing. “I’m good,” I tell him. I’m happy that even one of me ended up with Abby. And if there’s more than one of me, then there’s a good chance that there’s more than one of Abby – time travel’s like that, it seems – and maybe we’re all together. “This is good. I’m good.”
When Pangea had formed, little over half a billion years ago, there were two oceans. Panthalassa to the west, and Tethys to the east.
Now, as the supercontinent began to split a third of itself away, a new Tethys was formed by meltwaters and rivers running to fill the basin. This was the Novotethys, which extended southwards so far that by the time it reached the cliffs, it was barely a river anymore.
As the tectonics were slowing and cooling, the ground here was only mildly warm, not dangerous to the trainers of anyone who stood still there for less than a day.
Abby and Connor were standing there, each on one side of the trickle of a stream which geologically would be part of the Novotethys.
Many others watched them. Other thems.
In the many-worlds theory of time travel, you could go back and change the past, but you would be trapped there, in essence cut off from the sequence of history that you came from. On the plus side, you wouldn’t have to worry about the Grandfather Paradox extinguishing you in a puff of logic.
Reality, Connor and Abby had learned through experience by this point, was just like that. Only there was no limit as to how many of you there could be…as witnessed by the scores of Connors and the scores of Abbys at various points on the opposing cliffs and on the flat between them.
All of them were held to be divine by the descendants of the rescued armies, descendants who built tools for manipulating the anomalies and moving through time.
A few of the Connors and Abbys were bitter enemies. Some were just friends. And more had varying levels of feeling for one another. But none more than these two on the creek.
“So….dinner?” Connor asked Abby.
“Sure thing, Connor,” Abby said, pulling him in for a hug.