Metamorphosis the Second

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Repository neé Yaijinden - Metamorphosis the Second

A.D. 2395

Eudial was out of her element. As much as she enjoyed gloating in the spotlight, she much preferred that she control the time and place when she was under scrutiny. She didn't like big, open spots, and she wasn't much fond of tea, either.

It was as though her contact knew both of these things, and had set this meeting up specifically to keep her unbalanced.

She was nothing if not professional, though, and refused to let this get to her. Her companion was enjoying the serenity of the garden, paying just as much attention to the garden as he was to the slow sip of tea. Eudial hadn't remembered much of the chai ceremony, but what she did remember suggested that this person had spent almost a lifetime perfecting the art.

Chai was a strange art to pick up, though, especially if he was actually as inhuman as he seemed. Eudial had been exposed to many alien genotypes, but this one was not immediately familiar-- which only made her more wary. The man (whom she thought of as a man despite the lack of gender-specific characteristics) superficially resembled many of the member races of the Federation: upright, two arms, two legs, one head, two eyes, a mouth, and thin nasal slits in place of a nose. The eyes, though, were blue on blue, with no whites on the eyeball at all; what's more, the skin that she could see was sandy-colored and rough, looking more like scales or chitin than flesh.

At length, the being set down its cup and focused its gaze on her. "You seek revenge against someone who has slighted you," he observed in a raspy dialect of Andoran. "However, what you seek... defies your best efforts." Eudial did not react, meeting its piercing stare with a mildly disinterested look. It took this as license to continue. "You will not find her," it continued, looking back to the garden. "You have traced the money with which she bought tickets, but you came to a dummy shell account. You have hunted down her images in many archives, sought for birth records, and many more hints that would lead you to her. I will assure you, Yuuko Arimura, that you will not find any clues or scraps that will bear fruit. She has no birth records in the known worlds because there is no record of her birth."

"And this is where you tell me her secret, hmm?" She was obviously unimpressed, drumming her fingers against the table. "If you could get to the point..."

The being made a raspy coughing sound that might have passed for laughter. "There are no birth records of her because she has not been born yet," it announced, lips curving in an approximation of a smile. "The girl you seek will not be born for many hundred years."

To her credit, Eudial's expression did not change other than a raised, curious eyebrow. "So, you're saying she's a time traveller?" she inquired pleasantly.

The figure paused, and shook its head. "No, not yet," it responded evenly. "She is yet young-- too young to have mastered the ability to breach the boundaries of space and time on her own. She will do, of course, as she grows older; for now, though, she remains reliant upon the machinations of her elders to travel."

Eudial dipped her head a bit. "Presuming that this means anything to me," she said darkly, "how do you propose I do anything about this without invoking some sort of grandfather paradox?"

It paused and smiled again. "Time has a way of tending to its own wounds. I assure you, interference with prior events has a way of cleaning up after itself very nicely. The minds of mortals are subject to the ebb and flow of the universe writ large; those who travel above it even once, though, will find that their only enemies are other time travellers. It makes for a very subtle, very polite society, if you haven't guessed."

This gave her pause. Eudial was no stranger to time travel, of course-- she had a device that would let her do it, taken from some poor fool who had underestimated the power of past devices-- but she hadn't taken the thought of going back in time to kill someone as anything but a fantasy.

"Marshal your resources," the creature suggested. "She and her family are not taking pains to conceal their tracks-- they do not see any reason to be, not yet. Despite her age, she is merely a girl in a woman's body. Her mother is clueless to the work of her father, and her father is by no means skilled enough to evade a trained, ruthless individual such as yourself."

"Maybe," she agreed. "If it's so easy, though, why don't you do it?"

It fell silent for a moment. "As I said before, the existence of time travel requires something of a polite society," it said, shoulders lifting in a shrug. "In the event that you succeed, I cannot be traced to you. From your reputation, Yuuko, you will never be caught-- but even if you fail so dramatically as to be caught, you hate her for very valid personal reasons, and you possess your own equipment. They will not look further than that."

Eudial nodded, digesting this with a wary frown. It was speaking with a distinct accent, she had finally figured out-- the vocal distortions had thrown her off at the beginning of their conversation. There was something antiquated about this creature, and she couldn't quite tell what yet. "Your communique said you had a deal to make, though," she noted. "I'm not seeing the offer, yet."

"They do not take pains to cover their tracks," the humanoid observed, gaze unfocused, "but that does not mean they are unsubtle. Her father, for all his relative incompetence and youth, is still an experienced time-traveller. Their footprints are small, almost illegible-- and while you could eventually discern her identity, it would take you many years to put the clues together. I would offer you a shortcut that will save you much time: her name, and her family's name, in exchange for access to research you will be performing."

Eudial pondered this for a moment. "Which sort of research?"

"You will be undertaking some... genetics research in the near future," it explained, smirking. "When that research is complete, I simply require a copy of those files. After that, our business will be concluded, and we will go on our separate merry ways."

" Provided, of course, that this information pans out..."

"Of course." The being smiled and drew a small file folder from within the depths of its robe and passed it over the table to Eudial. "You will find relevant biographical data within," it explained, nodding. "The choice to act on this is yours, Yuuko, but I will know if you act on my information as opposed to doing your own legwork."

"Hmph. Fine." She took the folder and opened it, flipping through some of the pages before setting it aside. "Is that all?"

"That is all." It bowed to her from its sitting position and returned its attention to the garden. "I will see you when I do, Yuuko."

She said nothing-- only stood, and made an exit. Once she was out of earsight, the figure reached beneath the table and crushed a small bit of metal between his fingers. She had been very wary of him, he noted with a brief smile-- so much so that she had set some bugs beforehand. He had permitted them to be, of course, because he knew she would take the bait that he offered, and nobody would know the better. The veritas devices had served their purpose, anyway. She knew he wasn't lying, because he wasn't. Yuuko/Eudial would have been able to figure out those things eventually, of course-- she had either done it the first time around, or he had always been the one to feed her the names. He was simply saving her some time, and buying access to one of the most complicated genetics programs ever to exist.

Many years ago by local reference, Sakura had told tales about the genetics program Eudial had been working on. It had produced no shortage of powerful creatures-- animals, imbued with the ki-channelling powers of the Super Saiyajins, and no small number of them had become involved in and around Ten'Aino House in the very early twenty-first century. Knowing what he did, though, he had been utterly surprised by a very simple connection that Sakura herself had never managed to make.

He would have laughed if he wasn't too busy gloating. King Jeruka, the beast responsible for nearly slaying the entirety of the Sailor Senshi including the unborn Sakura herself, had not been born as others had. King Jerkua had been grown. And if Yaijinden could pick out the reams of relevant information in Eudial's clone files, he could seize a power like unto that on his very own.

With his business done, the khadi willed his flesh to return to the way it was, from wormskin to a more familiar, human texture. The wormskin was empowering and long-sighted, but the longer he wore it, the more alien his own mind became to itself. The nature of this sight was necessary, as of late, to precipitate the next impending shift in himself...

Besides, he thought with a smile as he started strolling back to his telephone booth, once he could perceive himself as complete, the switches would make for a neat parlor trick.

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