Author : Joshua Reynolds

Rifles barked and Censor Wight grunted with the impact of each slug. High-velocity bullets. Unpleasant. A lucky shot had disrupted the light-bending circuitry. He continued to run, hugging his burden to his chest and weaving between the columns thrusting upward through the orange sands of Mars. Behind him the aether-troops of the German Reich followed, air-guns whistling. Their scientist-kings had discovered the Time-Doors in an abandoned Martian Citadel in their home-alternate of 8926HF and, being a neo-facist sliding expansion empire, had decided to invade an alternate Mars. As one does in these situations, apparently.

Why people couldn’t be happy with what they had, Wight didn’t know. He was happy after all. How hard could it be?

Of course, the problem was that these particular Martians, the ones the Reich had just wiped out, were scheduled to invade this alternate’s Earth in the year 1888. And really if you let people mess with the schedules, you were inviting anarchy. Chaos. Free will. He shuddered. Terrible thought.

The Censor vaulted over a tumbled column, his free hand dipping into his coat as he rolled to his feet and pulled the buzz-gun holstered there. He pulled the trigger and the first of the black armored soldiers to follow him over the column tumbled backwards as the Imp bullet chewed through his armor and burrowed into his heart. Rifles cracked and the Censor scrambled for cover. That would encourage them to be more cautious. Give him time to do his job. He holstered the pistol awkwardly and tapped the side of his head. On the insides of his eyelids an infinity of free-floating cubicles appeared, a panorama of images within images. The eternal bureacracy of the Timeline Validation Bureau.

“Report.” A cacaphony of voices whispered in his head.

“I have secured the package. Permission to scour Alternate 8927HG of interference.”

“Permission granted.”

The Censor smiled and ran his fingers gently down the inseam of his coat, activating the Ellison cells. A ripple spread outward from his crouched figure even as the rest of his pursuers finally regained their courage and swept towards him. The ripple grew and spread like a soap bubble expanding. As it hit them, the aether-troops wavered and vanished. So too would their base-camp and eventually their ships in orbit. In fact, all non-natives of Alternate 8927HG would be erased from this time-line. Except for him, of course. After all, what would be the use of a Censor who got himself censored? None at all, obviously.

The Censor smiled as a thousand men and women blinked out of existence. He did so enjoy his job. He looked down at the burden he’d been carrying. Bundled together in a red scrap of cloth two Martian eggs sat, leathery and black. The Censor laid them gently against the column where they would be protected from the elements. Eventually they would hatch, spawn and invade. According to schedule.

Good for them.

He looked down at the eggs and smiled.

“You’re welcome,” he said as he disappeared.

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