First Born

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The docent at the Temporal Museum on Lafa II stood in front of a small group and lectured. She had a small knife in her hands – a dagger, really. Behind her, an old-fashioned clock – a conceit of the museum’s director – scrolled past the time –0300 hours and the very old-fashioned date – October tenth of 3101

“I’d like to talk about the Empress Hoshi Sato,” said the docent, who had an arm patch on the side of her uniform that said E. Daniels. Eleanor was an expert on the Terran Empire, particularly the lifetime of the notorious Empress Hoshi Sato and her offspring. “She had five children. There were four sons and one daughter, all the children of members of her senior staff. Kira was the eldest, the son of Tactical Officer turned babysitter Aidan MacKenzie. This knife was given to Kira on the occasion of his first birthday, and his earlier sitter, Elizabeth Cutler, helped train him with it – until, that is, he stabbed her with it repeatedly, when he was five years old. She was the first person he ever murdered.” 

She paused for a moment, as if shaking something very, very slight off herself, perhaps a grain of dust or sand. Then she continued. “As I was saying, this knife was owned by the Empress Hoshi Sato’s first born, Jun, who came from unknown parentage. He was the first of her six children, five sons and one daughter. While he was a killer – like many of the denizens of the other side of the pond are – he never killed anyone with this particular knife. He used different instruments.” 


What the devil were you thinking?” Admiral Carmen Calavicci thundered. She was so loud that Temporal Agent Richard Daniels stepped back, a little unnerved. 

“Car –” 

“Answer me!” 

“I, I guess I wasn’t thinking.” 

You’re bloody well right you weren’t thinking! Richard, going and doing that! What the hell am I going to do? How will I explain this? I can’t, I can’t be saving your bacon all the time like this! You need to help me out here!” 

“I’m, I’m sorry.” 

“Sorry? Jesus H –! Richard, we have just barely gotten the mirror government to sign the temporal accords! They are going to back out; I just know it, because of your, your carelessness! They will scuttle this department, and you and I will be thrown out of work because you couldn’t keep it in your pants!” 

Rick sighed. She was right. When she was right, she was right. “Do you want me to, to resign?” 

Carmen looked at him. She was still livid, but her demeanor softened a little. “I, please, Richard, I have been, perhaps, far too lax, and have looked the other way before. And this is how you repay me?” 

“I didn’t think the decision all the way through.” 

“You’re damned right you didn’t. And don’t think there aren’t some effects. There are some, even if they’re not very large. When you, you hooked up with Lucretia Crossman, earlier this year, it did have some minor effects. There were little inconsistencies in the master time file, and they were put there by your actions, Richard.” 

He remembered Lucretia. For her, it had been 1699, and it was in what was going to become Pennsylvania. She was a Quaker widow in Penn’s Woods and he was, so far as she was concerned, a lonely surveyor. It was not meant to be a terribly difficult assignment. He was just escorting some historians, watching William Penn. It was so much easier than an assignment he’d had in 3098, when he had gone to Pompeii in August of AD 79. For that assignment, he had run through streets that were rapidly turning into lava beds, and had watched people screaming. Men, women and children – it didn’t matter – they were all meeting their deaths due to the wrath of Mount Vesuvius. And he wasn’t allowed to save any of them. 

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